Firebirds grab big lead, hold off Green Hope 38-28

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CARY — Behind 329 yards rushing and a defense that shut down the opposing run game of Cary Green Hope, the Southern Nash High varsity football team opened a season of high hopes Friday night with a 38-28 victory.

The 3-A Big East Conference Firebirds were led on the ground by senior running back Kendrick Bell, who rumbled for 110 yards on 17 carries. Junior Zonovan Knight tacked on 13 carries for 109 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. On the other side, Southern Nash eliminated the Green Hope running game, holding the Falcons to a putrid minus-13 yards on the ground

Knight opened Southern Nash’s spree with a 4-yard plunge in the first quarter and followed it with a 65-yard sprint to the end zone on the Firebirds’ first play from scrimmage of the second half.

Southern Nash opened up a 31-0 lead before Green Hope fell on a fumble in the end zone late in the third quarter.

“I thought we did a lot of stuff well,” Southern Nash head coach Brian Foster said. “I thought defensively, we played as well as we have in a long time.”

Green Hope of the 4-A Triangle 6 Conference cut the final margin to 38-28 on a pair of scoring strikes from quarterback Willie Taylor to Jordyn Adams in a three-minute span, but the Firebirds were able to get the ball back and run out the clock.

Senior Dae’One Wilkins, who had just two carries, took off and scored on a 70-yard run in the fourth quarter. Lorenzo Sessoms, a senior in his first game at quarterback for the Firebirds, tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Chris Smith in the second quarter to send the Firebirds up 14-0.

Senior kicker Justin Vasquez was a perfect 4 for 4 on extra-point attempts and booted a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Green Hope attempted its comeback exclusively through the air, completing 17 of 25 passes for 227 yards. However, Southern Nash stopped three Falcon drives with fumble recoveries.