NL loses heartbreaker to Southern Wayne
North Lenoir's Tre Hawkins (88) fights for extra yards during Friday's game against Southern Wayne. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
LA GRANGE—Jim Collins came close to getting his first win as the North Lenoir head football coach. His Hawks led 28-14 at halftime and 28-20 late in the game before two Southern Wayne touchdowns in the final 1:48 pushed the Saints to a 32-28 victory.
The victory snapped an 18-game losing streak for the Saints (1-3), which dated back to a forfeit win against C.B. Aycock on Sept. 30, 2016. The loss dropped North Lenoir to 0-3 in Collins’ first season as the Hawks’ head coach.
It was a particularly tough loss for the Hawks, who were on the edge of picking up the victory late in the fourth quarter. North Lenoir led 28-20 with 2:23 remaining in regulation before a two-play drive that consisted of a 22-yard run by Demetric Wright and a 30-yard touchdown run by Deandre Wright brought the Saints to within 28-26 with 1:48 remaining.
With no timeouts remaining in their arsenal, the Saints were forced to attempt an onside kick – and it was successful for Southern Wayne.
“We knew we had to have it,” Saints coach Ronnie McClary said. “I told them at halftime if they wanted to win, they had to go out and get it, and they went and got it.”
Deandre Wright ran for 11 yards and a first down before a penalty – Southern Wayne’s 24th of the game – backed the Saints up 5 yards. After a Demetric Wright completed pass to Tashawn Philips, Demetric Wright scampered for 37 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 31 seconds showing on the clock.
North Lenoir had four plays to go 57 yards after the ensuing kickoff but were unable to score. Collins didn’t allow his Hawks to shake hands with the Saints after the game due to a Southern Wayne assistant coach touching one of the Hawks players during a heated moment in the second half.
“A grown man shouldn’t grab one of my kids,” Collins said. “I sent a message over to their sideline to let them know we wouldn’t be shaking their hands after the game. That set a bad tone in the second half.”
McClary was proud of his team’s effort following the game.
“We got the hump off our back,” McClary said. “The kids played the game and this is all because of them. … We’ve been trying to change the culture of the program and this is a step in the right direction. We’re not surprised that we won, because we know we have the athletes who can do it. We’ve just needed to get to the point of believing in ourselves and each other.
“This might be that pivotal point where we’ve finally changed the culture of our program.”
Southern Wayne finished with 261 yards of offense, but also lost 188 yards due to the Saints’ 24 penalties. Demetric Wright and Deandre Wright scored twice each on rushes; the pair also combined to rush 22 times for 137 yards while Demetric Wright threw for 66 more.
Three Hawks – Onassis Gardner, Terrance Copper and Christian Young – scored rushing touchdowns while Young threw a TD pass to Ny’Jai Koonce. Gardner finished with a game-high 144 yards on 18 carries while Young threw for 76 yards on seven completions.
Despite the loss, Collins said there were positives for his team.
“Our effort was there; we just need to clean up some things,” Collins said. “We’ve got to score when we’re given the chance to score.
“But my hat’s off to (Southern Wayne); their kids played hard and they did what they had to do to win.”
SW 6 8 0 18 -- 32
NL 7 21 0 0 -- 28
SW—Taylen West 80 kickoff return (kick blocked), 11:48
NL—Onassis Gardner 52 run (Damon Hewitt kick), 5:33
NL—Terrance Copper 30 run (Gardner run), 7:03
NL—Christian Young 1 run (Hewitt kick), 3:39
SW—Deandre Wright 10 run (Demetric Wright run), 1:08
NL—Ny’Jai Koonce 7 pass from Young (kick failed), 0:07.1
SW—Dem. Wright 10 run (pass failed), 9:45
SW—Dea. Wright 30 run (run failed), 1:48
SW—Dem. Wright 37 run (pass failed), 0:31
First downs 11 11
Rushes/yards 31-195 37-148
Passing yards 66 76
Comp-att-int 3-8-0 7-17-0
Total yards 261 224
Fumb/Lost 7-3 8-4
Punts-avg 5-18.0 3-15.0
Penalties-yds 24-188 11-80
Rushing: SW— Jamari Leach 4-75, Deandre Wright 8-69, Demetric Wright 14-68, Xavious Speight 2-10, DeMoregea Coley 3-(minus-27). NL—Onassis Gardner 18-144, Terrance Copper 6-30, Ny’Jai Koonce 6-21, Ja’lyn Mcneil 1-(minus-4), Damon Hewitt 1-(minus-9), Christian Young 5-(minus-34).
Passing: SW—Dem. Wright 3-8-0, 66. NL—Young 7-17-0, 76.
Receiving: SW—Raekwon Hardy 1-50, Tashawn Philips 2-16. NL—Koonce 2-42, Tre Hawkins 3-22, Jason Gagnon 2-12.