In the NCHSAA 4A East Playoffs, Cardinal Gibbons shocked Rolesville by scoring 21 points in the final quarter, resulting in a 28-21 victory.
The Crusaders, with a record of 12 wins and 2 losses, sought revenge for their previous defeat against the Rams (12-2). Cardinal Gibbons had not lost a game since then and entered Friday night’s match on a nine-game winning streak. With a fourth quarter performance that will be remembered, in front of a full crowd, their streak has now reached double digits.
Next week, Gibbons and Hoggard will face off in the 4A East Regional Final.
In the final quarter, Gannon Jones, the quarterback for the Crusaders, scored two touchdowns. He threw a 60-yard pass to Chet Yardley, bringing the score to a tie of 14 with 5:13 remaining. He also ran for a 9-yard touchdown, securing the win for his team with only 1:20 left in the game.
Aiden Smalls successfully completed a two-point conversion and Corban McDaniel was able to recover a fumble from Rolesville during the following kickoff, ultimately securing the win.
The Rams had a total of two turnovers in the second half, causing their 11-game winning streak to come to a halt.
Rolesville had a 13-7 advantage at the start of the final quarter following a nine-yard touchdown pass from Braden Atkinson to Jonathan Dunn, Jr. on the first drive of the second half.
In the fourth quarter, the Rams took the lead with a 52-yard touchdown run by running back Devon Thomas, making the score 21-14 after the PAT. With 4:44 left in the game, this gave the home team a comfortable lead. Jones and the Crusaders were able to hold onto this lead until the end of the game.
Cardinal Gibbons initiated their offensive push from the thirty-yard line and Jones successfully connected with Brayden Karras for a significant advancement, with the help of a penalty against the opposing team. Just two plays later, the Crusaders were positioned within the twenty-yard line and Smalls quickly found Nic Leonard for a touchdown. However, their two-point conversion was unsuccessful and Rolesville maintained a lead of 21-20 with only 2:34 left on the clock.
The Rams successfully retrieved the onside kick close to the middle of the field. However, the Crusaders’ defense proved to be impenetrable, causing Rolesville to face a fourth and two situation. The Rams turned to Thomas, but he was quickly surrounded by a group of opposing players, resulting in a loss and returning possession to Cardinal Gibbons at their own 45 yard line with only 2:03 remaining in the game.
Jones completed two consecutive passes to Smalls and Yardley, with the second one advancing the ball to the nine-yard line. Jones then finished off the drive with a short run for the final points.
Jones scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, the first being a 20-yard run in the opening quarter. Rolesville also scored in the second quarter with a 1-yard run by Thomas, resulting in a 7-7 tie at halftime.
Following the Rams’ first score in the second half, Marquis Bryant intercepted Jones, resulting in the first turnover of the night for Gibbons. However, Jaedon Alford also lost a fumble during Rolesville’s drive in the red zone, halting a potential scoring opportunity. Later, Smalls caught a long pass from Jones but fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Chase Heath and ultimately led to an intense fourth quarter conclusion.