Goldsboro running back Braxton Morton tries to shake off the Saints linebacker as he looks to pick up a first down.

The Southern Wayne Saints defeated the Goldsboro Cougars on Friday night by a score of 20-14 in a game where both teams struggled offensively.

Heading into the game, the Southern Wayne Saints faced a record of losing 16 games in a row and not winning a game since August of 2019.

The Friday game was a turnaround for the Saints, which this year has several freshmen ball players and a new conference to call home.

The Saints started with a strong opening drive that helped the team get all the way down to the 3-yard line only to be stopped for a turnover on downs.

Even though the Saints were unable to convert on offense in the first quarter, their defense held up strong and they didn’t allow the Cougars offense to score a single point in the entire quarter.

When the Saints got the ball back on offense in the second quarter, they were able to score the first touchdown of the game and took a 6-0 lead with 7:36 minutes remaining in the first half. The touchdown came from fullback Adam Cain who ran the ball up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown. The Saints’ lead was quickly erased as on the kickoff, Goldsboro’s Justin Taylor outran every Southern Wayne defender to score a 73-yard touchdown. After the play, the Cougars were able to convert a 2-point conversion and take an 8-6 lead.

Although the mood in the stands from the Southern Wayne fans seemed to change, the players continued to move forward. The Saints scored again on a 63-yard drive that started from their own 37-yard line. Cain once again finished off the drive for the Saints with a rushing touchdown up the middle. The rushing touchdown from Cain gave the Saints a 12-8 lead at halftime.

In the second half, both teams struggled offensively. Neither team was able to get into the end zone for the entire third quarter, and going into the fourth quarter the score remained 12-8.

With time running down in the fourth quarter, the Saints held the possession of the football and the Cougars needed to not only get a stop but also score a touchdown to win the game. Goldsboro failed to get the stop they needed, and with 5:21 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Cain once again scored to give Southern Wayne a 20-8 lead.

Although Goldsboro scored again to make the game 20-14, it came with only 39 seconds remaining and the Cougars needed to recover an onside kick to have a chance. The onside attempt was unsuccessful and Southern Wayne recovered the football to seal the 20-14 victory.

Head coach Ronnie McClary said the win against Goldsboro was a program-changing win.

“The only thing these guys needed to do was win, and after they got the win they could see that it can happen once they put everything together,” McClary said.

Cain, who scored all three of Southern Wayne’s touchdowns, said it was amazing not only to score three touchdowns, but also to do it against Southern Wayne’s rivals Goldsboro.

“That has never happened to me before, and it being on one of the biggest games of the year was huge for me,” Cain said. “That was breathtaking. It was huge for the team, and it was huge for me.”

With the win, Southern Wayne improves to 1-1 for the season and Goldsboro falls to 1-2.

Southern Wayne faces North Lenoir in LaGrange Friday at 7 p.m., and Goldsboro takes on Rocky Mount Friday at 7 p.m. at home.