SANFORD — Lee County romped to a 5-0 mark on the season with a 54-6 victory over Western Harnett Thursday night.
The Yellow Jackets scored the first 30 points of the game, in just over a quarter of play. It could’ve been an even faster start for the Jackets.
The first Lee County drive was suddenly thwarted on a play which looked as though it was a sure Jacket touchdown. Will Patterson hit Tyric McKendall with a short pass and McKendall dashed for the end zone for what would’ve been a long TD, only for Western Harnett’s Misha’el Vines, nearly on the goal line, to strip the football free and return it past midfield.
The unfortunate opening was a momentary issue for the Jackets. On the first Eagle shot with the ball, Lee County’s defense forced a punt, then a 20-yard loss on a fumbled snap on the punt giving the Jackets the ball again inside the Western Harnett 20.
Jacket running back T.J. Johnson made quick work with a 13-yard gain, then a 6-yard burst through the right side of the line for a touchdown. Johnson ran in the two-point play for an 8-0 lead.
The next Eagle possession was forced backwards again, and the Jackets got the ball back with a short field, needing to go 35 yards.
Patterson hit McKendall, then Eli Garrison, then McKendall again on a 9-yard TD pass.
The Jacket QB kept finding open receivers adding up to 328 yards on the night. McKendall added TD catches of 40 yards and 21 yards and a TD run from a yard for four touchdowns out of eight offensive plays he got the ball.
Even when the Eagles had the ball, McKendall was a threat to score.
Early in the second quarter, McKendall picked off a pass and returned it 25 yards, to the Eagle 1-yard line, setting up his TD rush.
Another turnover set up the Jackets a few snaps later. Jayden Marshall recovered a fumble then it was Patterson to McKendall deep down the middle for a 40-yard TD.
Western Harnett drove 73 yards and scored, on Elijah Bass’s 6-yard TD run, late in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Anthony Smith took it back 82 yards for a touchdown. The Jackets held a 37-6 lead at halftime.
The Jackets added to the lead, and brought up a running clock, in the third quarter with Eli Garrison scoring on a 6-yard run and McKendall’s fourth TD of the game, a screen pass and McKendall’s speed doing the rest.
The Yellow Jackets forced five turnovers and stopped the Eagles to -16 rushing yards.
Western Harnett (0-6, 0-4) will play its season finale at home against Union Pines at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Lee County heads quickly into game three of four games in a two-week span — hosting Triton at 6:30 p.m. Monday.