The smiles on the Southern Wayne players’ faces after the game said it all.
On Friday night, they entered Cougar Stadium on a 16-game losing streak and had not defeated Goldsboro since Sept. 6, 2016.
However, all streaks have to end eventually, and the Saints left Cougar Stadium with a 20-14 victory over the Cougars to snap their 16-game slide and defeat the Cougars for the first time since 2016.
For Southern Wayne head coach Ronnie McClary Jr, who graduated from Goldsboro in 2003, the victory against Goldsboro was extra special.
“To come back home and get a win is good. We knew that we had the capability of doing it, but to actually be effective and come out with the win is all we needed,” McClary said. “
On the game’s opening drive, the Saints drove down the field to Goldsboro’s three-yard line, but Saints were unable to get the ball in the end zone and turned the ball over on downs.
After the Southern Wayne defense forced a Goldsboro punt, the Saints managed to find the end zone midway through the second quarter when Adam Cain powered his way into the end zone from nine yards out.
But Justin Taylor took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the house, and after a successful two-point conversion, the Cougars led 8-6.
“The word of the day was believe, and no matter what happened on the negative side, we believed that we would come out of it,” McClary said. “If after they scored and got the two-point conversion, we felt like we could come back and win, and we did.”
The Saints responded with an 11-play 63-yard drive, which ended with a one-yard touchdown run from Cain to help the Saints take a 12-8 halftime lead.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Saints engineered a drive that seemingly iced the game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Starting at their own 12-yard line, Cain gained one yard on first down. On second down, Wadshon Louis looked like he would be stopped by a pack of Cougars, but somehow Louis broke free and ran 73 yards to Goldsboro’s 17-yard line.
Four plays later, Cain scored his third touchdown of the game, and after a two-point conversion, the Saints had a 20-8 lead.
“We felt like if we could get a hold of the ball and score a couple of times, keep the ball, keep the momentum, and be disciplined up front, we knew that we’d control the ball more than they (Goldsboro) would,” McClary said. “We just had to believe, and the kids did.”
Goldsboro did score a late touchdown when Jeremiah Leftdwridge crossed the goal line from three yards out, but with only 39 seconds left on the clock, it was too little too late.
The Cougars attempted an onside kick, but the Saints recovered it to get the win.
Cain finished the game with 110 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, and Louis ended up with 174 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Southern Wayne (1-1) overall travels to North Lenoir next Friday, while Goldsboro (1-1) hosts Rocky Mount.
“We have to celebrate and enjoy this moment against Goldsboro, but then we have to come back on Monday for a short practice and get ready for North Lenoir,” McClary said.