SEVEN SPRINGS - Spring Creek’s players broke the huddle and walked toward the locker room.
Faces shrouded in disappointment and wet with tears, they received encouragement from fans hanging out near the fence.
“Good job, boys,” one fan said.
“We’re proud of you,” shouted a mom.
The words brought a few half-hearted smiles, but couldn’t soothe the sting from a senior night loss at “The Swamp.” Goldsboro scored 30 unanswered points and departed with a 42-14 victory in Neuse Six 2A Conference play.
“I’ve been coaching various sports for almost 20 years, but I’ve never been as proud of a team after a loss tonight,” SC head coach Daniel Robinson said. “Some things did go their way with various stuff during the game, stuff that was kind of out of our control. I will just leave it at that.
“They have every right to implode, but you have to be a grown man [to handle adversity]. They were grown men tonight, so I was very proud of them for that.”
Goldsboro built a 12-0 lead that included a scoop and score on the game’s first offensive play.
The Gators (3-5 overall, 0-4 Neuse Six) churned out hard-earned yard after hard-earned yard and finally reaped rewards in the second quarter.
RB Wiggins’ 1-yard plunge trimmed the deficit to 12-6.
Nearly 10 minutes later, Spring Creek knotted the contest at 12-12 on Dylan Davidson’s 30-yard gallop. Robert Strickland added the two-point conversion for a 14-12 advantage with 88 seconds left before halftime.
The Cougars (4-5, 3-1) recovered an onside kick inside Gator territory.
Spring Creek appeared to have stopped the drive, but drew a questionable defensive pass interference penalty. A couple of plays later, Braxton Morton powered his way into the end zone to give the visitors a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I have to go back and watch film,” Robinson said. “They made a good call with that screen play on fourth down. We were there to make the tackle, but didn’t. That was the moment it kind of started to shift a little bit.”
Goldsboro tallied three second-half touchdowns and kept its postseason hopes intact.
Spring Creek accumulated 327 yards of total offense.
Davidson paced the ground game with 101 yards on 14 carries. David Williams (61 yards), Strickland (43), Wiggins (27) and Dorian Cherry (22) also contributed to the rushing attack.
Freshman Gio Pineda completed five of 14 passes for 92 yards. Strickland hauled in three receptions for 56 yards. Cherry and Gabriel Lopez each caught one pass.
Matt Johnson emerged as the defensive leader with seven stops. Wiggins logged six tackles (two for loss) and a quarterback sack, while Randy Alvarado supplied six tackles and one TFL.
Zach Cato and Cory Davis each had five stops. Williams and Cherry combined for seven tackles.
“This one hurts because I felt like we were just as good as that team,” said Robinson, who recognized 10 seniors before the game - Cherry, Williams, Strickland, Cato, Tyrrek Grizzle, Davidson, Jackson Evans, Wiggins, Omari Randolph and Jack Kornegay.