Hickory defeats Seventy-First in the 3A championship game with Lackey scoring 3 touchdowns.

Hickory defeats Seventy-First in the 3A championship game with Lackey scoring 3 touchdowns.

In a battle of two undefeated heavyweights, Hickory stood tall in the ending, winning the NCHSAA 3A championship, 33-26, Friday night at Kenan Memorial Stadium.

The Red Tornadoes achieved their second state championship in school history by completing a 9-play, 62-yard drive. This was their first state title in 26 years.

Brady Stober, the quarterback, received the title of Most Outstanding Player in the game. He finished off the drive with a touchdown of 8 yards and 36 seconds left on the clock. Stober’s total for the night was 238 passing yards and an additional 46 rushing yards.

The top runner for the Red Tornadoes, Isaiah Lackey, was named offensive MVP after recording 111 yards and three touchdowns.

“The game was incredible,” stated Hickory’s head coach Joe Glass. “My players gave it their all. It’s still a bit surreal and hasn’t fully sunk in yet.”

With only 2 minutes and 42 seconds left, Deandre Nance and Jaydeyn Surgeon of Seventy-First brought the score to a tie of 26 with a 13-yard touchdown.

Hickory (16-0) began their next possession at the 42-yard line following a brief kickoff return. They effortlessly advanced down the field, encountering minimal opposition and swiftly entering Seventy-First’s territory.

The Falcons, with a record of 15 wins and 1 loss, regained possession at the 36-yard line with the opportunity to either tie the game or attempt a winning play.

With only 17 seconds left in the game, Nance passed the ball to Donovan Frederick who then advanced into Hickory’s territory. However, a pass interference was called on the next play, giving the team possession at the 34 yard line with 11 seconds remaining. As the clock ran out, Will Prince intercepted Nance’s pass in the endzone.

It seemed as though the outcome of the game would be determined by whichever team had possession of the ball last. In this case, that team was Seventy-First, who made the only mistake of the game on their final offensive possession.

Glass noticed a new expression in his team’s eyes after the game, something he had not seen throughout the season.

“They appeared tired,” stated Glass. “I was concerned about their physical condition, as it was a different vibe in the locker room compared to what we’re used to. There was a sense of panic. However, I allowed the seniors to speak, then lightened the mood with a joke and we were able to finish strong.”

The first half was filled with exciting moments, including four touchdowns and only one punt.

Hickory quickly started their offensive drive with the kickoff and focused on running plays. They were able to advance 78 yards in 15 plays, with 8 of those plays being runs, and scored a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. Isaiah Lackey played a key role in this drive, carrying the ball seven times in a row and ultimately scoring a 2-yard touchdown.

The Falcons responded with a 12-play series, consisting of 11 rushing plays. The last play was a 13-yard throw from Deandre Nance to Amire Drummond. The second drive by the Red Tornado resulted in giving up possession, but Seventy-First was unable to capitalize and punted after five plays.

Hickory quickly advanced 55 yards in just 58 seconds, resulting in a second rushing touchdown of the day by Lackey. Tyler Johnson also contributed a two-point conversion, giving the Red Tornados a 15-7 lead.

Seventy-First responded with a strong attack, utilizing Nance and Donovan Frederick to gain 67 out of 85 yards. Nance ultimately scored a 1-yard run to finish the drive. However, the conversion was unsuccessful and Hickory maintained a two-point lead. The Red Tornadoes closed out the first half with a 26-yard field goal from Braeden McCourt to increase their lead to 18-13.

In the beginning of the second half, Seventy-First gained their first advantage of the game by completing an 88-yard drive in just five plays. The drive ended with a 38-yard run by Nance, which was the lone score of the third quarter for both teams.

In the fourth quarter, both Lackey and Stober scored points through running plays. In between the two Hickory scores, there was a touchdown pass from Nance to Jaydyn Surgeon. The final score by Seventy-First was made with less than three minutes left on the clock. This gave Brady and his team plenty of time to make a comeback.

Brady expressed his excitement for the moment, stating that it was a dream come true for every child. He also mentioned thinking about the situation the night before, which is something that every child dreams of.

Hickory has a perfect record of 2 wins and 0 losses in state title games. Seventy-First has a record of 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie in the championship game.

Pregame Coverage

Source: highschoolot.com