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KENLY— North Johnston head football coach Jon Riba knew going into his Panthers’ contest against Rosewood on Friday night how well-coached the Golden Eagles would be having had the 1-A Carolina Conference opponents on previous years’ schedules.
What is new for this year’s Rosewood team is size, however, and the Eagles (1-1) used that advantage on both the defensive and offensive lines to carve out a 48-22 victory to spoil North Johnston’s home opener.
The Eagles, coming off a 12-0 loss to C.B. Aycock in their season opener, outgained the Panthers 320-57 on the ground with Dhimani Fenty gobbling up 223 yards and twice finding the end zone. Fenty scored on Rosewood’s second drive of the game to push the visitors out in front but it may have been his 62-yard burst late in the second quarter that was the biggest blow to North Johnston’s hopes at opening the season 2-0.
Panthers quarterback Camden Aycock led a quick two-minute drill late in the second quarter and drew North Johnston to within 22-13 after he found Imandre McFarland for their second touchdown connection of the night.
Fenty ruined the party on the Eagles’ next play from scrimmage, however, when he got to the outside, found some open room thanks to his blockers and made a dash for the long score.
“Rosewood is really a good football team,” Riba said. “That’s the biggest Rosewood team I’ve seen. They’re very well-coached and they’re always in the right spot.”
Aycock did his best to keep the Panthers in the game. The junior threw for 190 yards including three touchdowns. He was also under a lot of duress all night long and was sacked five different times.
Late in the fourth quarter, North Johnston clawed to within 38-22 after a 30-yard field goal from Graham Walston and the Panthers defense came up with a three-and-out on Rosewood’s next series to get the ball back.
An interception derailed North Johnston’s next drive, however, and the 16-point deficit did not lend itself to any mistakes.
McFarland hauled in six of Aycock’s passes for 146 yards including a 51-yard scintillating touchdown reception during which he made several Eagle defenders miss on the way to the end zone. Diego Santiago’s lone reception was a 5-yard touchdown catch midway the third quarter.