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PIKEVILLE — Despite falling in an eventual 34-24 decision, North Johnston varsity football head coach Michael Barnett was pleased with the effort he saw from his Panthers against C.B. Aycock on Sept. 20.
“You can quote me on this,” Barnett said. “We have a football team at North Johnston.”
Barnett went so far as to say his team played better against C.B. Aycock than in its first win of the season against Smithfield-Selma, despite the Panthers never leading in the game.
North Johnston fell behind early on a 38-yard pass from Clay Matthews to Alijuan Moore for the 7-0 score.
In the second quarter, North Johnston kicker Graham Walston hit a 33-yarder for the visitors’ first points before a 12-yard scamper by the Golden Falcons’ Elisha Davis and a 2-yard rush from North Johnston quarterback Camden Aycock sent the game into halftime close at 13-10.
To start the second half, Davis returned the kickoff 75-yards to lengthen out Aycock's lead at 19-10 after a failed two-point run. But North Johnston responded again later in the third quarter as Camden Aycock found Carsse Lucas on a 28-yard TD toss. Walston's PAT kick narrowed the lead to 19-17. However, another Matthews-to-Moore scoring connection and Taevian Jackson’s two-point run upped the CBA lead to 27-17.
A 57-yard rush “through the heart” of the defense by Camron Privette gave North Johnston its final score to close out the third quarter to cut the margin to 27-24.
Privette’s touchdown capped off a night in which he ran 19 times for 154 yards, with his longest rush being his TD run. Rakuan Rodrigues, who received the ball 18 times, totaled 46 yards.
Aycock, the Panthers’ signal-caller, rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries on the night and completed 3-of-5 passes for 54 yards and one touchdown.
In the fourth, a Taevian Jackson TD from 4 yards out ensured the Golden Falcons’ victory. Although his only score of the night came late, Jackson received a bulk of his team’s carries, rushing 14 times for 106 yards.
Moore caught four passes for 81 yards and scored two touchdowns.
“They made a couple great plays and that was the difference,” Barnett said. “Our kids played like I’ve never seen them before.”
Barnett was most impressed with how the Panthers controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game, even facing a much bigger opponent. He thought his team played with resiliency, something he hopes continues through the rest of the season.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen kids play that hard for 48 minutes,” Barnett said.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version due to the incorrect names of two North Johnston players.