Triton attack romps vs. Eagles
The first four minutes of football on a special Monday night contest in the Two Rivers Conference went great for Western Harnett.
After those four minutes, and the Eagles (4-6, 2-2) taking a 7-0 lead, Triton (8-2, 3-1) celebrated its Senior Night with a 55-15 victory.
The Harnett County rivals meet perennially, but Monday's game, postponed due to Friday's rain, was the first between the Eagles and Hawks in the newly-formed Two Rivers. Triton moves into sole possession of second place with the win and one regular-season date left; on Friday night with a very short prep week.
Western Harnett, having won four of its last five, including league wins versus Smithfield-Selma and South Johnston, started confidently. The Eagles stopped Triton's strong rushing attack on the opening Hawk series then drove 55 yards for a touchdown.
Gartrel Barnes dashed for a 47-yard gain to set up 1st and goal and quarterback Austin Speck pushed a sneak in from a yard to give the Eagles the lead.
Triton's rushing was too good the rest of the night. The Hawks totaled 356 yards on the ground and quarterback Jeremy Leggett added 122 yards, on four completions, through the air.
The Hawks drove 63 yards in five plays to answer the Eagle touchdown. Zach Wade's 25-yard run and a 19-yard pass from Leggett to Marcus Locklear were the key plays, leading to a 2-yard touchdown dive by fullback Devonte Stewart.
Leggett, Wade, Locklear and Stewart were four of 22 Hawk seniors recognized before kickoff. The Hawks also remembered Justin Miller, a 2001 Triton graduate and former quarterback who passed away from lymphoma on June 7. Two seniors carried a large banner with Miller's name ahead of the team taking the field and fireworks.
Triton took the lead for good when Leggett connected with D'angelo Harris deep down the middle for a 53-yard touchdown pass with 0:16 left in the first quarter.
A 50-yard pass from Leggett to Todd Penny set up another Stewart touchdown run, from 2 yards out, and Triton led 21-7 with 7:44 left in the half.
On the next Hawk drive, Harris took a wingback-to-wingback reverse and raced 45 yards for a touchdown.
Latrell White's interception with 1:21 left set up the Hawks on the Eagle 26-yard line and Wade carried 31 yards on a 3rd-and-15 play for a touchdown. Triton led 35-7 at halftime.
Western Harnett got the first touchdown of the second half. After Triton forcing an Eagle punt, Sheldon Hotchkiss recovered a muffed punt to give the Eagles the ball at the Triton 12.
Darius Alston ran around the left side of the line and cut into the end zone on an 8-yard run. Austin Wright ran in a two-point play cutting the Hawk lead to 35-15.
Again, Triton answered right away. The Hawks moved 59 yards and Harris scored his third touchdown of the night with a 21-yard run.
The Hawks added touchdowns with a 1-yard sneak by Leggett later in the third quarter, then a 2-yard run by Penny with 7:30 left in the fourth.
Laron Gilchrist, the fullback in Western Harnett's wing-T offense, carried 16 times for 61 yards. Barnes rushed five times for 57 yards.
The Hawks gained 23 first downs. Harris got the ball six times and scored three touchdowns on 79 rushing yards and the 53-yard touchdown catch. Wade led the Hawk rushing with eight carries for 96 yards.
With three days to get ready, Triton will conclude its regular season playing at Corinth Holders at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Western Harnett will host first-place Cleveland (7-3, 4-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.