Midway came out on top in Tuesday’s barnburner against Sampson County rival Hobbton. On a foggy night in Spivey’s Corner, both teams lit up the scoreboard, the Raiders narrowly edging the Wildcats 44-38.
Midway looked to close out the game with the ball in the red zone as Hobbton called its final timeout with 3:47 left. The Raiders nearly scored on a 12-yard run, but a last-inch effort at the goal line caused a fumble. The Wildcats pounced on the ball in their own end zone, giving them the ball at their own 20 with 3:04 to go.
Both defenses struggled to get stops the entire night, but Midway got one when it was most needed. After an incomplete pass and a false start, the Raiders came up with a sack to put Hobbton way behind the chains. Midway got the stop and kneeled out the clock to seal the win.
“We did what we had to do to pull it out there at the end,” said Midway head coach Cory Barnes. “The kids played hard. We put some balls on the ground, which has happened some in the past three weeks. It almost came back to bite us again, but we somehow hung on and finally got back in the win column.”
Junior running back Deante Byrd was lightning in a bottle for the Raiders. Byrd racked up 225 yards on the ground on just 11 carries (20.5 yards per carry) and scored three touchdowns. He might have had a lot more had he not suffered an injury that made him miss all of the second and third quarters. Senior running back Dante Blue kept up the pace in his absence though, adding 138 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“You try to get your athletes the ball,” Barnes said. “We thought we’d take advantage of them up the middle a little bit.”
Midway quarterback Carson Calcutt was a threat with his arm and his legs, going 11-19 passing for 140 yards and adding 74 yards rushing on eight carries. His favorite target, Cameron Barefoot, caught six passes for 75 yards.
Hobbton’s offense was full of top performers too. Junior quarterback Grayson Rodgers was electric, going 24 of 33 passing (72.7 percent) for 304 yards and three touchdowns while also adding 34 yards rushing. Sophomore wide receiver Daniel Britt hauled in seven catches for 164 yards and a touchdown. Brayden Herring added 11 receptions for 102 yards and two touchdown grabs. Junior running back Dacorris Morrison added 159 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Senior kicker Jovanna Zapata was also steady, hitting all five PAT attempts as well as a 24-yard field goal.
“They actually took away our best run,” Hobbton head coach Joe Salas said. “[Midway] did a great job on defense. We had the ability to throw it and they did a great job. It was there for the taking. I’m proud of the guys for fighting. We improved the things we focused on.”
Hobbton played its last game of the regular season. Now the Wildcats await the release of the NCHSAA 1A playoff bracket, where they anticipate to receive a berth.
“We’re fired up,” Salas said. “That was our goal from the first day of the spring, and we made it. I couldn’t be more happy for these guys. They’ve battled and grown, and they keep getting better.”
Midway will have a short turnaround before facing Spring Creek on Friday, in what will be the Raiders’ senior night. Spring Creek runs a Wing-T offense, something Midway has seen a couple of times this season. Barnes hopes that will help his team get up to speed with only two days to prepare.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re healthy,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to win Senior Night. Hopefully, if we can win, it puts us on the bubble to make the playoffs, to sneak in. That’s what we’re playing for.”