State Playoffs: Impressive effort leads New Hanover football to dominating first round win

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WILMINGTON- The extra rest is just what the doctor ordered for the New Hanover football team as the Wildcats showed its explosiveness on both sides of the ball Friday night en route to a dominating 45-3 victory over Northern Durham in the first-round of the 4A state playoffs at Legion Stadium.

Junior slot back Wiz Vaughn accounted for over 100 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, including a 49-yard trip to the end zone on one of the highlight plays of the year midway through the third period. Making his first postseason start at quarterback, sophomore Blake Walston completed 19-of-25 passes for 243 yards and three scores.

Led by a physical front seven, the New Hanover defense was just as good, if not better than the offensive unit. The Wildcats held Northern Durham to three total points, which came on the Knights second possession of the game and just 22 total yards after the break. Grant Daley, Nas Brown, Jomaious Williams and Khalil Barfield-Toney paced the aggressive effort.

With Walston and company firing on all cylinders after scoring touchdowns on the opening two possessions of the ball game, New Hanover was able to spread the ball to a number of play makers.

Javeon Hall finished with 10 carries for 83 yards, while Keegan Santos had 50 yards on the ground in addition to a pair of key receptions late in the first half to set up a 19-yard field goal by Westley Gaines to give the Wildcats a 17-3 halftime advantage.

After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, New Hanover took the opening kick of the third quarter and went right down field as Vaughn scored his third touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run to put the game away.

Malcolm Hill found the scoring sheet with a six yard reception with 10 minutes to play in the ball game. Troy McCaskill blocked a punt 30 seconds later to set up a special teams touchdown by Jahann Simmons for the 42-point cushion and a running clock for the duration of the final frame.

Top-seeded New Hanover improved to 8-4 overall and 6-0 on their home turf this season. The Wildcats face fourth-seeded Cardinal Gibbons on Friday, Nov. 25 at Legion Stadium. Cardinal Gibbons put up 70 points in its opening round victory, 70-42, over D.H. Conley.

Box score

Northern Durham  3-0-0-0=3

New Hanover        14-3-14-14= 45

Scoring summary

First Quarter

New Hanover- Blake Walston 22 yard pass to Wiz Vaughn, (PAT, Westley Gaines) 8:02

Northern Durham- 34 yard field goal, Hunter Malsch

New Hanover- Wiz Vaughn 4 yard run, (PAT, Gaines) 3:02

Second Quarter

New Hanover- 19 yards field goal, Westley Gaines 0:00

Third Quarter

New Hanover- Wiz Vaughn 9 yard run, (PAT, Gaines) 10:14

New Hanover- Wiz Vaughn 49 yard run, (PAT, Gaines) 6:05

Fourth Quarter

New Hanover-Blake Walston 6 yard pass to Malcolm Hill, (PAT, Gaines) 10:00

New Hanover- Jahann Simmons blocked punt return, (PAT, Gaines) 9:29