By Jacob Hancock
The Daily Record of Dunn
LILLINGTON — It’s been weeks since the Friday night lights have shone on local football fields, so when South Johnston traveled to Western Harnett this past Friday, both teams had their fair share of kinks to work out.
South took the bus home to Four Oaks with a comfortable 40-18 win, but head coach Matt Riggsbee saw plenty of room for improvement.
“We anticipated this being kind of a ‘startover’ game,” Riggsbee said. “I told them yesterday at practice, ‘Honestly, guys, it’s going to be like the first game of the season. You’re probably going to make a few mistakes, probably going to be more tired than normal.’ And I was right. Before this game we talked about confidence, and trusting the process of what we’re doing, and when mistakes happen — which they did — that we’re going to overcome them with confidence. That’s exactly what they did. I’m proud of the entire team, we got to see everybody on the field tonight.”
The Trojans struggled to consistently move the ball in the first half but still jumped out to an early lead thanks to a few big chunk plays. Tony Faison broke through a couple of Eagles tackles and carried the ball 65 yards to the house for the game’s opening score. A few minutes later, South blocked a field goal and Jawuan Smith ran it all the way back to make it 13-0 in the fourth quarter.
Trojan quarterback Josh Schindler tacked on a pair of passing touchdowns in the second quarter — a 56-yard bomb to Keyshawn Sanders and a screen pass to Smith for 43 yards.
Schindler kept it rolling in the second half with two more touchdowns through the air. He hooked up again with Sanders in the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown, and in the fourth quarter he hit Smith from 9 yards out for his fourth passing touchdown of the game.
“One of my goals going into the game was to be able to pass the ball,” Riggsbee said. “Especially with what they were doing, having so many guys in the box and blitzing from different looks, we were just going to throw the ball and run outside. I was glad that we had success in the air, and I was glad to see Keyshawn finally step up and show his true potential.”
Western wasn’t without its own offensive punch though. After going down 13-0, the Eagles put together a scoring drive thanks to a 43-yard run by Ky’lim Moore that got them down to the goal line. Moore punched it in on a fourth down from the 2 to make it 13-6. Moore led all rushers on the night with 79 yards on 16 carries.
Western played a duet of quarterbacks throughout the night. Noah Thompson went 6-12 passing for 43 yards and connected with Tamarius Davis for a 9-yard touchdown in the third quarter, while Tristin Ung went 8-16 for 173 yards and hit Kahlil McLean for a 42-yard score in the final minute of the game. Mclean led all receivers with six catches for 124 yards and 80 yards after catch.
“I’m proud of our kids, they played really hard,” Western head coach Blake Culbertson said. “We moved the ball, we just couldn’t get points. When you can’t get points, you’re going to struggle a little bit. We’d get to the 30 or the 20 but we couldn’t finish the drive off.”
South will travel to Clayton (5-1) this Friday in an important Greater Neuse Conference game.