RALEIGH — No matter the offender, habitual turnovers have the ability to cause great harm to a football team.
Playing its first game since competing for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A championship on Dec. 14, 2019, Southern Nash High was victimized by five turnovers — including a late interception return for a touchdown as the Firebirds lost for the first time in the regular season in over two years with a 38-33 loss at Raleigh Wakefield on Thursday night.
It snapped a 26-game winning streak in regular-season play for the 3-A Big East Conference Firebirds, who surrendered 306 yards passing to the 4-A Northern Athletic Conference Wolfpack, coached by Beddingfield High alumnus and former head coach James Ward.
Southern Nash’s double-wing offense produced 386 yards on the ground, including a raucous 239-yard performance by junior Jackson Vick. Vick rumbled 75 yards for a score just 18 seconds after Wakefield opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal.
“You can’t have five turnovers and win a game,” Southern Nash head coach Brian Foster said. “I thought we did some good stuff, but we were inconsistent. “It’s the first game, and a lot of new faces. It’s part of it.
Southern Nash looked like it would be in position to extend its streak to 27 in the regular season after taking a two-possession lead with 10:43 remaining on a 10-yard scoring dash by Xavien Smith. But Wakefield struck back with a pair of scoring tosses by quarterback Caleb Kerins to Marcus Baker and Will Lohr. The pass to Baker went for 50 yards, while Kerins’ 10-yard strike to Lohr came with five minutes remaining and put the Wolfpack up for good. Kerins threw for three scores and ran for another.
The Firebirds struggled with ball security, fumbling six times and losing four of them. An interception was retured 20 yards for a score to make it 38-27, and a 1-yard plunge by Southern Nash senior Chason Royal as time expired completed the scoring.
The Firebirds stay in the NAC for their final nonconference game next week at Wake Forest Heritage.
“We haven’t had this feeling in quite a while in the regular season,” Foster said. “We’ve got to understand that people don’t give you anything.”
Raleigh Wakefield 38
Southern Nash 33
First Downs 14 12
Yards rushing 386 68
Yards passing 14 306
Passes-Comp.-Int. 6-3-1 29-20-0
Punts-Average 3-31 2-33
Fumbles-Lost 6-4 2-0
Penalties-Yards 8-55 10-80
Score by quarters:
Southern Nash 7 6 8 12 — 33
Wakefield 10 7 0 21 — 38
WAKE — Kluch 25 FG, 7:54, 1st
SN — Ja. Vick 75 run (Wachowicz kick), 7:36, 1st
WAKE — Kerins 4 run (Kluch kick), 5:52, 1st
WAKE — Williams 9 pass from Kerins (Kluch kick) 5:22, 2nd
SN — McClaston 2 run (kick failed) 1:00, 2nd
SN — Gandy 7 run (Ja. Vick run), 5:46, 3rd
SN — Smith 10 run (run failed) 10:43, 4th
WF — Baker 50 pass from Kerins (Kluch kick) 8:44, 4th
WF — Lohr 10 pass from Kerins (Kluch kick) 5:00, 4th
WF — 20 interception return (Kluch kick) 4:39, 4th
SN — Royal 1 run (no play), :00, 4th
RUSHING — Chason Royal 7-19, TD, Jackson Vick 24-239, TD, Jalen McClaston 10-40, TD, Dawson May 1-5, Xavien Smith 5-42, Sammy Gandy 6-39, Terrence Raspberry 1-2.
PASSING — Chason Royal 6-3-1, 14 yards.
RECEIVING — Darin Bailey 1-7, Jackson Vick 1-2, Xavien Smith 1-5.
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