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STANHOPE — If there was any doubt as to whether or not Southern Nash High senior running back Quinton Cooley was prepared to become the feature back for the Firebirds this season, consider Friday night’s performance against Warren County a major check mark in the affirmative.
Cooley accounted for five total TDs, and senior quarterback Matt Foster ran for the first two scores as the Firebirds induced a running clock by halftime and cruised to a 65-14 victory over Warren County.
“It was nice to see him do some stuff,” Southern Nash head coach Brian Foster said of Cooley. “He’s a tough kid who enjoys playing football.”
The 3-A Big East Conference Firebirds ran for 298 yards as a team and held Warren County of the split 1-A/2-A Northern Carolina Conference to minus-7 yards on the ground.
Southern Nash owned a 32-0 lead after one quarter on darts of 65 and 46 yards by Foster from the quarterback position.
Then, Cooley took over.
He replied with runs of 6 and 53 yards and hauled in a 30-yard pass from Foster on the final play of the opening quarter.
After Cooley for a 31-yard score with 2:12 left until halftime, Warren County scored on a 44-yard pass play with 6 seconds left in the half.
However, the Wake Forest verbal commit responded with his fifth touchdown of the first half, bringing the ensuing kick back 99 yards on the final play of the half.
Senior Izaiah Walker-Warren pulled in a 70-yard scoring toss from Foster in the second quarter and returned another kick for a touchdown, this one 90 yards, with 50 seconds remaining. Warren County fumbled six times, but did not lose one. Foster was 5-of-6 passing for Southern Nash for 152 yards and ran four times for 104 yards.
Cooley amassed 119 yards on just eight totes.
Arguably, the only negative from Southern Nash came in the kicking game, where the Firebirds were successful on only 2 of 6 extra-point attempts. However, they did escape the opener without any serious injuries — a feat Foster termed “the biggest win of the night.”
“I thought our kids played hard,” Foster said. “I thought we could have done better on some special teams stuff...our extra point was not real fluid tonight. It’s something we can work on.
The Firebirds host Nash Central next Thursday.