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In its first varsity football meeting with Greenville Rose, Southern Nash piled up 572 yards of offense and steamed to its fifth straight win to start the season with a 55-21 triumph at Firebird Stadium on Friday night.
Senior halfback Quinton Cooley rushed for a season-high 308 yards on 27 carries to lead Southern Nash. Cooley ran for three touchdowns and fell on teammate Jackson Vick’s fumble into the end zone for another TD for the 3-A Big East Conference Firebirds. Rose, picked to win the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference, stumbled to 2-3 with its third straight loss.
The 3-A Rampants did accomplish no other Southern Nash opponent has this season — have a lead against the Firebirds. Rose took the opening kickoff and marched down the field in less than three minutes with senior Shaquan Perry powering into the end zone from four yards, followed by Conner Shupe’s extra-point kick.
Cooley answered with a 35-yard TD run and Evan Barnes booted the first of six PATs to tie the score with 6:31 on the first-quarter clock. Cooley gave Southern Nash the lead on a 1-yard TD dive in the final seconds of the quarter.
Senior quarterback Matt Foster scrambled 15 yards for another TD in the second quarter before Cooley pounced on Vick’s fumble just before crossing the goal line to give the Firebirds a 28-7 halftime lead.
Perry’s second TD for Rose halved Southern Nash’s lead in the third quarter but Cooley galloped 36 yards for his fourth TD on the night on the ensuing possession. Foster then linked up with Vick on a 28-yard scoring connection as the Firebirds began to pull away.
Senior Shaunden Mitchell had a 1-yard TD run and junior Jalen McCalston picked off a Rose pass and zipped 49 yards for the Firebirds’ second interception return TD in as many games in the fourth quarter.
Wade Jarman’s 15-yard TD run with 11 seconds remaining completed the scoring for Rose.
The Firebirds wrap up nonconference play next Friday, Sept. 27, at Jacksonville Northside while the Rampants kick off ECC action at unbeaten New Bern.