WHEAT SWAMP - Southern Wayne head football coach Ronnie McClary Jr. may wonder if someone from North Lenoir secretly ripped a page from their playbook before Friday’s meeting at Bullock Field.
The Hawks did what the Saints couldn’t do - run the football efficiently and chew up the clock.
Senior running back Jaden Kilpatrick rushed for 319 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-24 victory. It was Kilpatrick’s second consecutive 300-yard outing of the season.
"They did what we wanted to do," McClary Jr. said. "We wanted to wear them down up front, pound the ball. They decided to keep it a little bit and we just couldn't stop it. We kept giving them first downs, couldn't execute as much as we wanted to."
North Lenoir (4-0 overall) emerged victorious against Southern Wayne for the sixth time in their last seven meetings and 11th overall since the series started in 1969.
The former Big Eight conference foes combined for 52 first-half points.
Saints quarterback Josh Kearney hooked up with Daylan Kornegay for a game-tying, 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:31 left in the opening quarter. Kilpatrick answered 18 seconds later with his first TD to put the Hawks back in front, 14-12.
“When we tackled, we tried to tackle him [Kilpatrick] up top,” McClary Jr. said. “He’s a big guy…strong back. We should have hit him at his waist or and just wrapped up his legs, he can’t move without his legs.
“Instead of just thinking ‘hey, I can go for the kill shot’ so to speak, he’ll go down. But if he’s lifting weights and we’re lifting weights, the low man wins. We’ve just got to learn how to tackle a little better.”
Jeffrey Idoris returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the house.
Southern Wayne seized a 24-14 lead on touchdown runs from Mar’kawon Smith (35 yards) and Wadshon Pierre-Louis (58 yards).
“The good thing is we stayed positive, to a degree,” McClary Jr said. “Offensively, we moved the ball. Defensively, we knew what they were going to do, we didn’t execute as well as we should have. When did our job, we were in a good position.”
North Lenoir 44, Southern Wayne 24
How it happened: The Hawks soared to a 28-24 halftime lead behind Kilpatrick and quarterback Treshad Lynch. Kilpatrick scored from 5 yards out and Lynch connected with Kane Moore on a 17-yard TD strike on a fourth-down play with 53.6 seconds left.
Key moment: North Lenior’s offense held the ball nearly 19 minutes in the second half, which wore down Southern Wayne’s defensive front.
Notable: The Saints had just three offensive possessions in the second half and 10 for the game. They turned the ball over twice on downs and punted twice.
Stats: Southern Wayne: Rushing - Wadshon Pierre-Louis 15-105, TD; Mar’kwon Smith 8-73, TD; Adam Cain 10-54; Josh Kearney 2-(minus-7); Jahmere Bannerman 1-(minus-8). Receiving - Daylan Kornegay 1-40, TD; Pierre-Louis 1-9.
McClary on Quad County 3A opener: “Like I told them, this is what the non-conference is for. [We play] to see what we’re good at and what we’re not so good at [doing], so that prepares us for and gets us ready for conference. That’s why we purposely scheduled teams like this.”
Records: Southern Wayne 1-2, North Lenoir 4-0.
Next: Sept. 17 - East Wake at Southern Wayne.