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WENDELL — The Knightdale High football squad made the most of second chances last Friday by capitalizing on a last-second chance to nip Corinth Holders, 21-20, in overtime on the road.
The Knights (6-4 overall, 1-3 in the Northern Athletic Conference) trailed 14-0 at the half and by 8 with less than two minutes showing. However, after four costly receiver drops in the clear up until absolute clutch time, Brandon Ricks redeemed the catch corps with a 55-yard yank and take to the end zone with only 35 ticks left. It converted a fourth-and-21, no-timeouts-remaining situation. So it was then or never.
“We were in a load of trouble, but our guys never stopped believing,” Knightdale head coach Anthony Timmons said of the comeback against the Pirates (4-6, 0-4). “I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if the NAC 6 is not the toughest conference in the state then it must be the second toughest. There are no easy games on the schedule.”
Nursing the wounds of four-straight defeats laced together with a rash of roster injuries, Knightdale incurred a scoring problem for a majority of this contest. Pirate quarterback Isaiah Faulkner (8-of-17 passing, 95 yards, two touchdowns) piloted an eight-play, 36-yard drive following a blocked Knight punt. It was just his second series as a varsity starter.
The Corinth Holders lead doubled midway the second after a Knightdale offsides turned a 32-yard field goal try into a first down instead. Faulkner floated a 10-yard fade to Marcus Bland (all 8 catches) for the two-possession advantage.
That upperhand would stayed applied almost the rest of the way. Knight linebacker Jalen Applewhite (13 tackles) intercepted a Faulkner throw in the third quarter to match a Bland pick on the previous enemy series.
From the Pirate 15, Nickil Mohammad (eight carries, 44 yards) turned two-consecutive totes into a touchdown with 9 minutes, 18 seconds left in the third. Brett Poirier’s PAT was blocked, leaving it 14-6.
Corinth Holders’ ensuing 45-yard trey try was blocked by Knight Khalil Denis (12 tackles). That left the duel deadlocked deep into the final frame.
After a pair of drops failed to sustain a possession with less than four minutes left, Knightdale punted away and relied on defense plus timeouts to retrieve it. Corinth Holders suffered a holding violation, then squibbed a 13-yard punt.
Knightdale took over with 1:51 left. Quarterback Cam’ron Spellman (6-of-12, 85 yards, two touchdowns) hit Ricks for 9, then his unit absorbed a 15-yard holding penalty. Spellman responded with a 3-yard toss to Dax Hardy, then an incompletion and a delay-of-game foul. That set the stage for the dramatics.
Ricks accounted for the touchdown, then Hardy racked the two-point conversion off the water-bucket alignment. It was 14-14.
In overtime, Faulkner lobbed 11 yards to Bland for a soaring corner glory grab. Denis and Mohammad, though, blocked the extra point.
Knightdale was stuffed on its first three hikes in the bonus session, meaning Spellman needed to produce some fourth-and-12 magic. He did, squeezing the ball past a defender’s paws and into the juggling arms of Jerome Washington. The battle remained tied until Poirier stepped into the PAT.
And the Knights celebrated for the first time in over a month.
“Now that it’s over, we can concentrate on winning our last regular-season game and seeing where the playoff cards fall from there,” Timmons said.
Knightdale will play Wakefield at home tonight at 7 p.m.