Clayton shocks Pinecrest by holding them at the goal line.

The Clayton Comets secured their spot in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state playoffs with a crucial defensive play that ended the game.

With a 17-10 advantage, the defense of Clayton, ranked 13th, was tasked with defending against Pinecrest, ranked 4th, on the 1-yard line with only seven seconds remaining. Despite Jaylin Morgan’s attempt to rush into the end zone, the Comets’ defense successfully prevented him from scoring and time ran out.

Pinecrest did not hold the lead throughout the game. Clayton was the first to score two touchdowns in the opening quarter, both courtesy of Johnathan Montague. The quarterback ran for 17 and three yards to give the Comets a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.

In the middle of the second quarter, Pinecrest scored their first and only touchdown of the game. Quarterback Mason Konen ran a draw play from the 43-yard line, bringing the score to 14-7 in favor of the Comets.

In the final play of the second quarter, the Patriots were able to score a field goal, bringing the halftime score to 14-10 with Clayton in the lead.

Clayton’s field goal was the only scoring in the second half. This gave Pinecrest an opportunity during the final drive, but Clayton’s defense stopped them at the goal line, preventing a comeback.

Clayton is set to face (5) Cardinal Gibbons in the third round of the playoffs following their victory over Millbrook on Friday night. The Comets now hold a record of 10-2 for the season.

Pinecrest’s playoff defeat against Clayton marked their first loss of the season. The Patriots finished the year with a record of 11-1.