The semi-mosh pit near the 20-yard line of Northern Nash students and players bobbed up and down with excitement.
In the middle of it all was Knights coach Randy Raper, who wasn’t done celebrating with the group.
He told everyone within an earshot to run 30 yards toward the Northern Nash sideline and celebrate with the fans.
“They’ve been working hard for you, too,” Raper said.
It seems as if Raper’s instructions and Northern Nash’s energy are becoming a worthwhile combination.
Jamayis Rosser caught a pair of long touchdown passes, and Jaquez Howington returned to form with 90 yards rushing and a touchdown as the Knights defeated Smithfield-Selma, 24-7, on Friday night at Northern Nash High.
With the victory, Northern Nash surpassed its wins total from a season ago (2).
The Knights, in their first season under Raper, have won three consecutive games after opening the season 0-3.
Those three losses are now afterthoughts.
“I told them after the third loss that we weren’t going to lose another, and that’s what we’ve done,” Raper said. “The (nonconference season) is over with, and we’re getting ready to go into the real work.”
Northern Nash (3-3) seems as ready as any of its five Big East counterparts for conference play.
The Knights’ defense allowed Smithfield-Selma to convert only four first downs. The Spartans (0-6), who have not won a game on the field since 2010, scored first on a 76-yard run on their second drive, but they had little success from that point forward.
Northern Nash wasn’t always consistent on offense, but it was explosive.
With the Knights facing third-and-long and holding a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, Rosser caught a short screen pass from quarterback Jacob Green and outran the Spartans’ defense for a 73-yard touchdown.
He pulled off the same feat on Northern Nash’s first drive of the second half.
This time, Rosser caught a pass within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, eluded a tackler near the sideline and turned on his speed for a 55-yard score.
In between Rosser’s highlight-making plays, it was Howington that led a promising rushing attack.
The senior suffered an ankle injury three weeks ago against Tarboro, and returned to his usual form.
During one of his runs, a teammate on the sideline yelled, “He’s back!”
“I think I came back this week and did well,” Howington said. “I felt great.”
With strong play in all three phases – Northern Nash place-kicker Corbin Griffin also hit a 32-yard field goal – the Knights believe they can have more evenings like their Homecoming against Smithfield-Selma.
They plan to follow their leader.