Dec 1, 2008
WAKE FOREST — Asked after Friday’s 35-7 win over Apex how it felt to be taking Wake Forest-Rolesville to next week’s 4-AA East Regional final, WF-R coach Earl Smith paused for a moment, as if not sure how to answer the question.
But Smith needed that moment since he’s never gotten to answer that particular query. Next Friday’s visit to Fayetteville Britt will be the first time Smith and the Cougars will play in a regional final.
“Great,” Smith said. “It took me 32 years, but here we are. It’s great for the program. How far we’ve come in five years is just amazing.”
The Cougars are here after a dominating performance against Apex at Trentini Stadium on Friday. WF-R forced five turnovers and held Apex to 239 yards of total offense.
After Apex marched down the field on the game’s opening drive, WF-R didn’t let them near the end zone again. On its next two red zone possessions, Apex came away with no points and two turnovers.
“We missed opportunities on scoring some, but some of that was due to them and some of that was due to us,” said Apex coach Bob Wolfe. “They’re a super football team.”
Offensively, the Cougars rolled up 305 rushing yards and four of their five touchdowns were on the ground. WF-R did that against a defense that had allowed 232 rushing yards and no TDs in its previous two playoff games.
“The offensive line did what they’ve done every week, they blocked great,” said WF-R’s Trea Jones, who ran for a team-high 137 yards and a touchdown. “If you can get around the line, and you’ve got a hole, that’s easy. And they were opening up the holes. All we had to do was cut up field.”
Though the WF-R rolled to a 28-point win, it was not a perfect showing. Quarterback Tim Hartman was intercepted twice, once by Josh Powell in the second quarter and once by Bo Ogunnowo in the third, and Apex nose tackle Lewis McAlister jumped on a fumble in the third.
But after each of those turnovers, WF-R’s defense had an answer. WF-R held Apex to three-and-out after the first two turnovers. After the fumble, Apex drove to the WF-R 9-yard line, only to have Logan Welsh intercept a pass in the end zone. Welsh also recovered a fumble earlier in the game.
But Apex was sharp from the outset. Quarterback Houston Hawley guided his team on an eight-play 69-yard drive to the end zone. Hawley was 5-for-5 for 42 yards on the drive, including a five-yard TD pass to tight end Rob Fronk, who finished the night with seven catches for 131 yards.
But that was as successful as the Apex offense got. On its next possession, WF-R linebacker Taylor Jenks hit Hawley as he got rid of the ball on an incomplete pass. On the next play, defensive end Keaton Epps nearly intercepted a screen pass. On the punt, WF-R’s Marcus Jones nearly blocked it. And that set the tone for the remainder of the game.
“Defense, they turned it around,” Jones said. “They turn it up like that, it helps the offense.”
Sparked by their defense, WF-R’s offense turned around and went 45 yards in eight plays, with Brexton Young (16 carries, 106 yards) scoring on a two-yard run.
WF-R took the lead for good early in the second quarter when Hartman tossed an eight-yard TD pass to Torrey White.
Apex had a chance to tie the game before the end of the first half, but came up short. The Cougars marched inside the WF-R 10-yard line in 11 plays, but the drive stalled at the 5-yard line. On fourth and 1, Wolfe chose to go for the first down, and WF-R’s Epps stuffed Rob Conolty at the line of scrimmage for no gain and a turnover on downs.
WF-R went up 21-7 after driving 62 yards in eight plays to open the third quarter. Jones scored on a one-yard run.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Darren Kirby intercepted Hawley near midfield and returned it to the Apex four-yard line. Four plays later, Hartman plowed into the end zone from a yard out, putting the Cougars up 28-7 with 5:38 to play.
James Harris tacked on the final score with 1:47 to play on a 31-yard run, where he broke away from three would-be tacklers in the backfield, then got a huge block from Hartman to spring him free to the end zone.
Contact Tim Candon at 821-8697 or firstname.lastname@example.org.