APEX — Holly Springs sophomore Tray Staten scored four touchdowns to help lead the Hawks to a 40-28 win over Apex in a SWAC regular season finale.
Holly Springs, who will play in the post season for the first time since 2009, rolled up 529 total yards. Staten (173 yards) and D.J. Cornish (121) combined for 294 rushing yards. The Hawks needed them all, as Staten’s 34-yard TD run with 1:38 left in the game sealed the victory and prevented a Cougar comeback.
Holly Springs (6-5 overall, 5-2 SWAC) nearly qualified for the playoffs last year, but this year the seniors made sure that the last regular season game would not be the end of the year.
“I’m very proud of how resilient these kids are,” said Holly Springs coach Will Orbin. “We were so close last season, and to make it this year says a lot about how hard they worked.
“Last year we had to learn how to compete, this year how to win and now I think we are at the point where we are learning how to win consistently. This is special for our seniors.”
The Hawks scored the first 20 points and led 27-7 at intermission. The Holly Springs offensive line paved the way for Staten and Cornish, and then protected quarterback Will Forrestal, who fired a perfect 61-yard touchdown pass to senior Jordon Kornegay in the second quarter.
Kornegay finished with 159 receiving yards.
The Cougars scored on its first possession of the second half. Devyn Merklin tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to Owen Pickard on a trick play to trim the Hawk lead to 27-14.
Grayson Boyd scored several minutes later to bring the Cougars to within six points entering the fourth period.
Isaiah Totten scored twice for Apex and rushed for 114 yards.
“We discussed at halftime how we wanted to play the last 24 minutes of our season,” said Apex coach Joe Kilby.
“The kids came out and played their tails off and I’m proud of them.”
Myiles Harrison intercepted three passes for Holly Springs.