Round 3 football playoff previews

mblake@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2013 

Friday games

No. 6 Garner (11-3)

at No. 2 Middle Creek (11-2)

The rivalry has never meant more than it does this week. Garner and Middle Creek started the season against each other, and the day after Thanksgiving will be the end of the of the season for one.

In Garner’s favor, the game against Middle Creek was arguably the worst it has looked on offense this year and the team still won 21-16. Trojans junior running back Nyheim Hines has accounted for a Wake County record 60 touchdowns by himself this year. He is coming off a week where he ran for 479 yards and seven touchdowns but had just 85 yards rushing against the Mustangs in their first game this year.

In Middle Creek’s favor, Garner has been a sieve on defense ever since that opening win, allowing 45 or more points on three different occasions. Also, that first game of the year didn’t feature star wide receiver Curtis Burston (eight touchdowns in five games), and quarterback Brant Grisel was hurt during the contest. Middle Creek’s defense has allowed more than 21 points in a game only once. Its special teams has blocked 14 kicks this year, but the real key for that unit will be angling kickoffs and punts away from Hines.

Last time they met: Garner won 21-16 in the season opener.

The game starts at 7:30 p.m.

Player of the week

In a close 33-28 loss to Southern Durham, Cardinal Gibbons quarterback Shawn Stankavage ran for two touchdowns on 27 carries for 77 yards and threw a touchdown pass on 23-of-44 passing for 238 yards and no interceptions.

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