Senior night is always an emotional night for a head coach, and for Goldsboro head coach Timothy Ray this year’s senior night was a little more emotional than in past seasons.
“The biggest thing is I came in as the head coach with this group. So, this is the first group in a long time that’s had the same head coach all four years,” Ray said about his seniors. “With me getting the job at such a young age, these guys grew with me just like I grew with them.”
And playing in their final home game, Goldsboro’s seniors went out with a bang.
The Cougars celebrated senior night with a 47-13 victory against the Panthers. The triumph moved Goldsboro to 3-5 overall, 2-1 in Neuse Six 2A Conference play, and kept its chances for a playoff bid alive.
“The relationship I have with these seniors, I wouldn’t want them to go out in any other fashion,” Ray said. “The environment here at Goldsboro is always special.
“I’m proud of them for going out the way they did.”
Goldsboro wasted little time in putting points on board.
On the game’s opening possession, D.J. James artfully scooped a North Johnston fumble and sprinted to the barn for the contest’s first touchdown.
Then on the Panthers’ second possession, Michael Linko’s pass was intercepted by Justin Taylor, who ran it back to the end zone for a pick-six.
Barely five minutes into the game, the Cougars had a 13-0 lead.
“Defense came out, and they were balling. That was our game plan for our defense to come out and hit hard and get it started early,” Ray said. “The biggest thing was making sure our defense and special teams set the tone, and our offense was going to play off our defense and special teams.”
After a Panthers’ turnover on the downs, the Cougars took a 21-0 lead off a 44-yard touchdown pass from Deontay Hooker to Drake Ennis.
Midway through the second quarter, Hooker and Ennis connected again for another touchdown to push the Cougars ahead 27-0.
However, the Panthers battled back, and by the end of the third quarter, the Cougars’ lead had shrunk down to 27-13.
“North Johnston definitely got a lot of momentum in the third quarter,” Ray said. “We had some turnovers, but once we cleaned it up, we finished off strong.”
And the Cougars did finish off the game in dominating fashion.
Another North Johnston turnover led to the Cougars making it 35-13 on Hooker’s touchdown pass to Andre Augustin with 9:42 left.
Hooker scored again on a 60-yard run with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, while Tyili Faison put the exclamation on the Cougars’ strong performance 39-yard touchdown run.
“We were trying to run the clock out, but I have a senior running back (Faison) whose been saying to me for three days ‘I have to score,’” Ray said. “We ran a basic play, and he just wanted it.”
Goldsboro wraps up the season with two games against county opponents. First, the Cougars face off against Spring Creek (3-4, 0-3) on Oct. 22. Goldsboro then heads to Eastern Wayne for the Wayne County Classic on Oct. 29.
“The kids have played against each other for nearly all of their lives, so the biggest thing is keeping them focused on the game and not the rivalry,” Ray said. “We’ll stay focused and try to finish up 2-0 with a playoff spot.”