WILSON — It started out as an ugly game for both the Hunt and Lumberton football teams in their season-opening game Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
But then it got really pretty for the home team as it scored 28 unanswered points to take a commanding lead as the Warriors defense continued to shut down the Pirates offense completely.
However, Lumberton found a way into the end zone with 11:30 to go in the game on a 20-yard bulldozer-like run from fullback Troy Mitchell and a 34-yard run by the senior with 6:54 to go made it interesting.
And after Hunt wide receiver Ra’shod Shipman dropped a likely game-clinching touchdown with a little over four minutes remaining, it looked as if the unlikely comeback by the 4-A Southeastern Conference squad may be completed as Lumberton freshman quarterback Braylon Grice tossed a 74-yard touchdown to receiver Jamarie Fletcher, who made the grab after two Hunt defenders missed the ball, cut it to 28-20.
The Pirates appeared to recovered an onside kick, but officials ruled that it went only 9 yards and not the required 10, giving Hunt the ball with 2:29 to go.
Hunt, of the 3-A Big East Conference, stalled, and punted it to its 11 with 51 seconds left.
But there were no more heroics for the visitors as cornerback Jay Wiley and linebacker Delvin Edwards deflected two of four incomplete passes by Grice to allow Hunt QB Jacob Williamson to kneel on the ball and run out the clock in the 28-20 victory.
Hunt head coach Stevie Hinnant told his team afterward, that it was his fault the Warriors were not ready for a full 48 minutes of football.
“I told you guys at the beginning of August that you would not get tired out here,” he said. “But we did, and it’s on me. Next Friday, we will not get tired.”
Hinnant said with so many players on the 36-man roster going both ways, it is a necessity that Hunt does not run out of gas.
“We have to out-shape the other team,” he said.
After managing minus-4 yard of total offense on the unit’s first two drives, the Hunt offense needed a lift.
Williamson said he got the team together and stressed the importance of the game.
“I got them together and said ‘Look, guys, for a lot of us this it he last first game, and we need to go out with a bang. It got them motivated, I think.”
Hunt got its first first down on a Williamson to Ikeem Holden on a 21-yard pass that was followed by senior running back Darius Barnes’ 58-yard touchdown.
Barnes would finish with 20 carries for 164 yards.
Holden and teammate T.J. Speight tackled Grice in the end zone for a safety to make it 8-0 with 5:41 left in the first half.
Hunt then got a 2-yard TD from Jeremy Harris to push the lead to 15-0.
In the third, Williamson connected with Shipman on a 24-yard TD strike to make it 22-0 after Anthony Gaetono’s extra point with 9:24 on the clock.
The final Warriors’ score came on a nifty run by Tae Davis.
The running back took the handoff from Williamson and darted up the middle. In a flash of speed, he got into the secondary, cut once and scampered 57 yards to make it 28-0 with 4:48 left in the third.
“I had a feeling I’d take it to the end zone,” Davis said. “And I did. The hole, it was little, but I just shot through it.”