There are just three teams left in the PrepsNow coverage area after Friday’s third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs: Garner, Wake Forest and Tarboro.
The East finals in all classifications are set for next Friday, with game times of 7:30 p.m.: Garner at Wake Forest in 4AA; Hoggard at Scotland in 4A; Eastern Guilford at New Hanover in 3AA; Havelock at Western Alamance in 3A; North Davidson at East Duplin in 2AA; Wallace-Rose Hill at Southwest Onslow in 2A; Edenton Holmes at Tarboro in 1AA; Plymouth at North Duplin in 1A.
Wake Forest 35, Sanderson 7: Wake Forest (13-0) was mired in a close game with Sanderson (9-4) until a 21-point third quarter opened up a close game in 4AA football at Trentini Stadium.
Chris James hit Lex Goodwin on two long touchdown passes within a three-minute span, giving the Cougars a three-score lead en route to a win.
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James, who also connected with Marquis Dunn for a 78-yard score, completed 9 of 15 passes for 246 yards. Devon Lawrence rushed for 51 yards and the Cougars’ other TD. Trent Pennix led Sanderson with 63 rushing yards.
Garner 56, Green Hope 39: Garner (9-4) used its rabid defense to create offense, bouncing back from a first-half deficit to down Green Hope (10-3).
The Trojans fell behind early as the Falcons scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, but sophomore quarterback Nolan McLean turned on the jets in the second quarter, selling two play-action plays on scoring strikes to Donovan Evans and Spencer Stephenson. Despite the pair of scores, the Trojans still trailed 27-21 at halftime.
In the second half, Garner found a new way to get on the board as its defensive line’s pressure on the passing (four second-half sacks) and running game (1.2 yards per carry) forced Green Hope to commit six turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles, two on downs). One of the interceptions was returned 44 yards by Marcus Davis for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
On offense, Garner’s line paved the way for a career night from Daiveon Carrington, who ran for 123 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns.
Hoggard 20, Heritage 8: Heritage’s season ended with a loss in Wilmington on Friday, falling to Hoggard in the third round of the 4A playoffs. Hoggard’s defense forced three turnovers and held 6-seed Heritage in check.
Hoggard (13-0) led 13-8 at halftime thanks to a 51-yard touchdown pass from Josh Jones to Tre Houser on the sixth play of the game and a pair of field goals from Jeremiah Kim.
Heritage (12-2) seemed poised to cut into the deficit or take the lead, but a 12-play drive ended in a fumble inside the Vikings 10 early in the fourth quarter. Senior safety Reece Moulton scooped up the ball and returned it to the 37.
Duke recruit Gunnar Holmberg finished 16-of-30 for 171 yards and an interception. Heritage running back and N.C. State commit Ricky Person totaled 64 yards on 17 carries and 50 receiving yards on four catches.
Scotland 74, South Central 34: South Central quarterback Dexter McDuffie threw for five touchdowns, but the Falcons were unable to stop the Scotland County offense in the third round of the 4A playoffs.
McDuffie (288 yards passing) threw two scores apiece to brothers Emanneuel Lewis (99 receiving yards) and Jeremy Lewis (146), and also found Jalen Wilson in the end zone. The Falcons (10-3) trailed 28-6 after the first quarter, and could not slow up the Fighting Scots’ (11-1) ground game, as Scotland ran for 518 yards.
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Eastern Guilford 38, Clayton 31: Clayton’s undefeated season and run as the No. 1 seed in the 3AA East bracket came to an end to reigning state runner-up Eastern Guilford (12-2). The Comets trailed most of the game but tied the score at 31-31 on a 22-yard field goal by Andrew Souter.
But Wildcats junior Cameron Meyers answered that with an 88-yard kickoff return with 4:29 left in the game. Clayton (13-1) rallied to move to the 12-yard line but ran out of miracles as the game clock wound down.
Senior receiver Devin Carter, an N.C. State recruit, caught 12 passes from junior quarterback Austin Cagle for 243 yards in his final game as a Comet
Havelock 49, Southern Nash 39: A duel of teams with gaudy offensive numbers lived up to its fireworks-filled billing, but it was Havelock’s defense that helped preserve a home victory over Southern Nash (12-2). The Rams (13-1), clutching a tenuous three-point advantage, held Southern Nash on consecutive possessions late in the fourth period – and sealed the triumph when Tyiyon Johnson intercepted a screen pass and returned the ball 10 yards for a touchdown with two minutes remaining.
Both offenses had little trouble moving the ball the entire way, and the Firebirds drew to within 42-39 on Kendrick Bell’s 1-yard plunge with 7:25 remaining.
Southern Nash had two possessions down the stretch with an opportunity to either tie the score with a field goal or move ahead with a touchdown, but neither series would result in points.
Facing a third-and-10 deep in their own territory, the Firebirds opted for a screen pass, but Johnson read the play and picked off the attempt before lumbering into the end zone, literally carrying a pair of Southern Nash players on his back as he crossed the pylon.
Southern Nash quickly moved back into the red zone in the dying seconds, but Havelock Dru Dotter intercepted another pass, this time off a tip, at the Rams’ 2-yard line.
Havelock quarterback Zach Sabdo threw five touchdown passes to spark the Rams, while Bell (23 carries for 177 yards) and Zonovan Knight (24 tries for 155 yards) paced Southern Nash’s ground-heavy offense.
North Davidson 35, South Granville 19: South Granville’s best season in school history ended on the road to 2-seed North Davidson (13-1) in the 2AA playoffs. Trailing 21-19 in the fourth quarter, South Granville (13-1) had a go-ahead 56-yard Allajah Mitchell touchdown run called back for holding. A go-ahead field-goal attempt later on the same drive was muffed.
North Davidson, which led 21-13 at halftime, threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to go up nine, and then returned an interception 90 yards on the ensuing drive to put the game away.
Mitchell had two touchdown runs in the contest and quarterback Tucker Brown added the other.
Tarboro 48, West Montgomery 3: Tarboro fullback Jaquez Edge broke off a 99-yard touchdown run that burst open a Tarboro (13-0) win over West Montgomery (11-3) in the 1AA playoffs as the Vikings remained unbeaten.
Edge’s second score of the night was on a first-down play up the middle for a 21-0 lead with 7:48 remaining in the first half. The junior finished with 11 carries for 176 yards. His other score was an 18-yard run early in the second period.
In all, 10 Tarboro backs carried the ball 47 times for 425 yards. The Vikings only attempted two incomplete passes.
Deonte Williams finished with 13 carries for 76 yards and touchdown runs of 7 and 18 yards. The other touchdowns were scored by Clifton Joyner, Malik Dickens and Winston Johnston.
West Montgomery’s lone score was Jeffery’s Villalobos’ 30-yard field goal to make the score 29-3 at halftime.
Mike Potter, Ian Pierno, Dave Malenick, David Justice, Geoff Neville and Tom Shanahan contributed.
1-Wake Forest (won 35-7) vs. 4-Sanderson
2-Green Hope vs. 3-Garner (won 56-39)
1-Scotland (won 74-34) vs. 4-South Central
2-Hoggard (won 20-8) vs. 6-Heritage
1-Clayton vs. 4-Eastern Guilford (won 38-31)
2-New Hanover (won 41-38) vs. 11-Cape Fear
1-Western Alamance (won 38-7) vs. 5-Jacksonville
2-Havelock (won 49-39) vs. 3-Southern Nash
1-East Duplin (won 21-13) vs. 4-Randleman
2-North Davidson (won 35-19) vs. 3-South Granville
1-Northeastern vs. 5-Wallace-Rose Hill (won 63-52)
2-East Bladen vs. 3-Southwest Onslow (won 30-13)
1-Tarboro (won 48-3) vs. 5-West Montgomery
2-Edenton Holmes (won 49-7) vs. 6-Lakewood
1-North Duplin (won 42-14) vs. 5-Pamlico County
2-Northampton County vs. 6-Plymouth (won 14-8)