BAILEY – Tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter, Southern Nash had conference favorite Wilson Hunt within its grasp.
But in the end, the Firebirds were too banged up and the Warriors were too good in the fourth quarter. And Josh Joyner was on the other side.
Joyner, the Warriors’ running back, rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 7:24 to play in the fourth quarter.
“You have to give Hunt credit, they made plays when they had to,” Southern Nash coach Brian Foster said. “I know my kids played as hard as they could, and I was proud of them.”
Southern Nash (6-2, 2-1 Big East Conference) turned over the ball twice inside the five-yard line, missed an extra and failed on a two-point conversion attempt and still had a chance to beat Hunt (7-0, 3-0) in the final moments.
The Firebirds were without their two best linebackers, as well as their best offensive lineman, tackle Cameron Gardner, and things became worse as the game wore on.
Quarterback Deon Lavender missed time with cramps, offensive lineman Roderick Dunston was injured in the first half and did not return, and running back Rashid Campbell was ejected, meaning he will miss the next two games.
Campbell was face-masked on a run, though the penalty was not called. When he stood up, there was pushing and shoving, which ended with Campbell and Alvin Artis being ejected.
Neither coach was provided much of an explanation.
“His head got turned around; he could’ve broke his neck,” Foster said. “Then I don’t know why you have to eject anybody. I didn’t know much of anything tonight.”
With the Warriors leading in the fourth quarter, 21-15, middle linebacker Kendall Parker stepped in front Daniel Westbrook’s pass to give the Firebirds the ball.
“I’d been practicing my drop-backs all week,” Parker said. “I wanted to get better with my eyes, and I saw it the whole way. I was telling myself that I’d never forgive myself if I dropped it.”
Desmon Jackson finished the ensuing drive with a nine-yard touchdown, though the Firebirds missed the extra point. Joyner and the Warriors needed fewer than three minutes to take a lead they would not lose.
The defense added a safety for good measure to decide the final score, sacking Southern Nash quarterback Deon Lavender in the end zone.
Hunt needs only one more victory in its final two regular season games to assure a fourth straight Big East championship.
“We talk about it all the time, that you have to have the execution when it matters,” Wilson Hunt coach Randy Raper said. “Our kids did a really nice job of executing on offense for most of the night."
Wilson Hunt 30
Southern Nash 21
WH 7 7 7 9 – 30
SN 0 7 8 6 – 21
WH – Josh Joyner 9 run (Brian Orellana kick), 7:31
SN – Rashid Campbell 4 pass from Deon Lavender (Sergio Penaloza kick), 7:01
WH – Kentrell Brown 42 pass from Daniel Westbrook (Orellana kick), 6:01
WH – Joyner 41 run (Orellana kick), 11:01
SN – Team safety, 6:34
SN – Desmon Jackson 5 run (raun failed), 6:14
SN – Jackson 9 run (kick failed), 10:01
WH – Joyner 15 run (Orellana kick), 7:24
WH – Team safety, 1:16
13 First downs................13
83 Passing yards............24
273 Total offense............223
Rushing – WH: Josh Joyner 18-6167; LEwis Neal 1-25; Brian Brown 2-1; Tevin Speight 1-2; Trevon McBair 2-0. SN: Rashid Cmpbell 17-109; Desmon Jackson 10-40; Sebastian O’Neal 6-28; Taylor Finch 7-19; Ricahrd Hall 4-10; Deon Lavender 4-(-7).
Passing – WH: Westbrook 4-6-1 83. SN: Lavender 2-6-1 24.
Receiving – WH: Kentrall Brown 2-77; Marcus Barnes 2-6. SN: Hall 1-15; Chi-Ali Bunn 1-9.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or email@example.com