Apex shuts out Harnett Central in blowout opener
Harnett Central opened the season with a 43-0 shutout loss at Apex on Friday night.
Going into the season, Harnett Central coach Dave Thomas worried his team wouldn’t have the size or depth to match up with more-established programs. Both concerns were well founded against Apex. The Cougars outrushed Harnett Central 409 yards to minus 15. Apex gained 8.6 yards per play to Harnett Central’s 0.9, and the Trojans managed three first downs in the game to Apex’s 22.
The Trojans couldn’t stop Apex senior running back Rondell Gainous. The official school statistics had him for 19 rushes, 182 yards and a touchdown, but unofficial press box tallies had him over 200 early in the third quarter. Gainous ran for 41 yards on Apex’s first snap from scrimmage, and he added runs of 29, 27, and 24 yards. Each of those plays went for more yards than the Trojans’ top rusher got for the game. Harnett Central’s Jay Mcneil ran six times for 22 yards, and Thomas Staton had nine for 22 yards.
Apex sophomore Isaiah Totten also hurt the Trojans on the ground. He had seven rushes for 73 yards and three touchdowns, including a winding, tackle-breaking 34-yard scoring run in the first quarter, for the first Apex touchdown of the game.
Harnett Central’s defense came out of the gate strong, stopping Apex on fourth down twice and recovering a fumble in the first three drives of the game. They also recovered a fumbled punt early in the second quarter. The Trojans’ offense couldn’t take advantage, however.
Staton fumbled on his first carry of the game, and two Taylor Smith pitches to running backs went wide of their target. Apex recovered one at the Harnett Central eight-yard line, and the other resulted in a safety for Apex’s first points of the game. Smith went 4-for-5 for 65 yards, but he gave way to sophomore Shaquan Young late in the first quarter. Young threw an interception on his first pass, but he stayed in for the rest of the game.
In his first start for Apex, sophomore quarterback Grayson Boyd went 7-for-10 passing for 59 yards and a touchdown. Boyd and the Cougars took advantage of great field position, thanks to turnovers and a strong edge on special teams. Apex ran just three plays in their own territory in each of the first two quarters.
Harnett Central clearly wore down as the game went on. The Trojans had three-and-outs on their first four drives of the second half, while Apex scored three touchdowns on their first four drives. Before a final five-play Harnett Central drive to end the game, Apex had as many first-down plays in the second half—twelve—as Harnett Central had total plays.
Apex moved to 1-0 on the season and will travel to Leesville Road next week. Harnett Central fell to 0-1 and will host Western Harnett on Friday.