By Taylor Jones
For The Daily Record of Dunn
ERWIN — The South Johnston Trojans varsity football team won its first game away from Four Oaks last Thursday against the Triton Hawks, 22-14.
The contest started off slow, with several punts and a Triton (0-1) interception midway through the first quarter.
Finally, the game picked up around the six-minute mark in the second quarter when Triton’s Tyler House picked off a pass along the sideline and returned it into South Johnston (1-1) territory. The pick and return were quickly erased as a roughing-the-passer penalty was called on the Hawks defense, giving the ball back to the Trojans.
After totaling 19 plays and traveling 71 yards to eat up much of the clock, Trojan quarterback Josh Schindler took the ball in from the 1-yard line to put the first points of the game on the board. Kicker Dylan Lambert converted the point-after to make the score 7-0 with 3:19 remaining in the half.
After a Triton fumble on the next drive, Schindler connected on a 49-yard catch-and-run to receiver Keyshawn Sanders to set South Johnston up at the Hawks’ 31-yard line.
With a defensive stand, Triton held the Trojans to a Lambert field goal. This would be the final score of the second quarter, leaving the tally at 10-0 heading into halftime.
Both teams picked up the effort in the third quarter.
Triton would not go quietly and came out swinging with a 48-yard return of the opening kickoff to begin the third quarter.
A few plays later, running back Ro’mello Cowan bowled his way through defenders to reach the end zone on a 20-yard run. A successful point-after conversion brought the Hawks to within three points.
Starting at the Trojans’ 19-yard line on the next drive, South Johnston’s Schindler took the ball on a quarterback keeper and gained 58 yards.
With the Trojans now deep in Hawk territory, they kept the ball on the ground and eventually broke through with Jaequan Wells crossing the goal line from two yards out. Lambert sent the point-after wide left to leave the score at 16-7 with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
South’s defense caused a Triton punt on the drive, which opened up another opportunity for Wells. From the Hawks’ 48 yard-line, he jetted to the outside to scoot by Triton defenders and coast in for the long touchdown run. South Johnston attempted an unsuccessful two-point conversion to maintain a 22-7 lead and close out the third quarter.
Solid defense combined with long drives significantly shortened the fourth quarter in comparison.
Thanks to several positive running plays in a row from halfback Austin Riewestahl, the Hawks gashed the Trojans and finished a mid-quarter drive with a 7-yard Travion Sanders run to bring them within eight points.
However, South Johnston used the clock to its advantage and took away any opportunity for a comeback, leaving the final at 22-14.
After the game, Trojans head coach Matt Riggsbee explained what worked well in the match-up.
“I think — up front — our offensive and defensive lines stepped it up and dominated the line of scrimmage,” Riggsbee said. “We’re fairly banged up right now. We had a lot of guys that stepped it up that were on that second and third string. They got the job done…because we won in the trenches.”
This week, South Johnston returns home to face off against James Kenan at 7 p.m. Friday while Triton will host E.A. Laney.