After not facing off against each other last season, Eastern Wayne and Goldsboro renewed their 53-year old rivalry on Friday evening.
The Warriors scored 28 points in the first half and held off the Cougars to win the Wayne County Classic 28-14.
Eastern Wayne clinched the Neuse Six 2A Conference’s second automatic bid and finished the regular season with an 8-2 overall record, while Goldsboro ends the season with a 4-6 record.
“I’m very proud. It was a great atmosphere, and I wanted to show something where we’re all still family,” Eastern Wayne head coach Leander Oates said. “I knew Goldsboro was going to come in and play a great game, and it lived up to the expectations.”
The Warriors started off the game with a bang when Zavian Oates, coach Oates’ son, returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
“The crazy thing about it is he matched what I did when I played against Goldsboro,” Oates said. “When I was a player here, I had a return for a touchdown against Goldsboro, and my son did the same thing.
“So, it was a great start.”
Midway through in the first quarter, Oates returned a punt to the Cougars’ 18-yard line, and four plays later, Zion Rodgers’ four-yard touchdown plunge gave Eastern Wayne a 14-0 lead.
On their next drive, the Warriors turned the ball over downs deep in their own territory, and the Cougars took advantage.
The electric Justin Taylor made it a one-possession game with a 13-yard touchdown burst with just over one minute remaining in the first quarter.
“I’m a daredevil, and I put my team in a situation when I went for it, but I trust my defense,” Oates said. “Unfortunately, we did give up some points, but we rebounded after that.”
A Goldsboro punt with 6:28 left in the second quarter gave the Warriors good field position and allowed Dennislyn Swinson break loose for a 57-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive that made the score 21-6.
And after Goldsboro fumbled on the ensuing possession, the Warriors executed a nine-play drive that Demontae Robinson capped off with a five-yard touchdown run.
“We came back and scored, and I think that really set the tone,” Oates said.
Down 28-6 at halftime, the Cougars did not give up, and late in the third quarter, another touchdown run from Taylor cut the Warriors’ lead down to 28-14.
However, the Cougars could not get any closer as the Eastern Wayne defense kept the Cougars off the board in the fourth quarter.
“Look how we finished the game, we flew around, and we knew they had speed,” Oates said. “I think our defense competed very well.”
Both teams qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs that start on Nov. 5. Eastern Wayne hosts Kinston in the first round, while Goldsboro travels to St. Pauls.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Oates said. “We’re looking forward to playoffs. The weather is changing. It’s football season.”