For the second consecutive round, the (13) Northern Nash team managed to survive a nail-biting ending and advance in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A football state playoffs.
After defeating their rival (4) Southern Nash with a score of 35-32 in the second round, the Knights were able to secure a win against (5) Scotland in the third round with a touchdown, an extra point, and a blocked field goal in the last two minutes.
After the game ended, Northern Nash moved on to the fourth round after defeating the Fighting Scots by a score of 45-44.
In the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 38-38 and Northern Nash on the attack in Scotland’s territory, Dajuan Gibson made a crucial interception in the end zone for the Scots. Immediately after, Zay Jones ran 80 yards for a touchdown, giving Scotland a six-point lead at 44-38. However, the extra point was unsuccessful.
The Knights were given an opportunity when the door was left open. With only 1:40 remaining in the game and possession of the ball on Scotland’s 14-yard line, Elijay Pitt tossed a pass to Jaquille Arrington in the end zone. Despite being challenged, Arrington caught the pass and landed in the end zone, securing a touchdown for the Knights. The extra point was successful, giving Northern Nash a 45-44 advantage.
Scotland had one last chance as they advanced down the field. As the clock ticked down to two seconds, Cameron Cole prepared to kick a 44-yard field goal that could potentially secure the win. However, Randall King managed to break through the line and block the kick, securing the victory for Northern Nash.
The Knights held the advantage during crucial moments, such as the end of the game, while Scotland dominated for most of the match.
In the beginning of the first quarter, Cole successfully kicked a 35-yard field goal, giving Scotland a 3-0 advantage. Later, Trey Battle scored a touchdown for Northern Nash, putting the Knights in the lead with a score of 7-3.
At the end of the initial quarter, Ji’san McPhatter scored a one-yard run for Scotland, giving them a 10-7 lead.
In the beginning of the second quarter, Northern Nash scored a field goal from 29 yards, resulting in a tie. However, Scotland prevented the Knights from scoring for the remainder of the quarter.
Scotland added two additional touchdowns before the end of the first half – both were passes from McPhatter to Gibson, with one covering 54 yards and the other spanning eight yards. This gave the Scots a 24-10 lead over Northern Nash at halftime.
For a period of time, it appeared that whenever Northern Nash scored, Scotland had a swift response.
Dywhaun Mitchell closed the gap for Northern Nash with a four-yard touchdown, but Jones responded with an eight-yard touchdown. Scotland maintained a 31-17 lead in the third quarter.
Shortly after Jones’ touchdown, Pitt also scored a touchdown, narrowing the score to 31-24. The Northern Nash defense then made a crucial play, with Garrett Graham intercepting a pass from Scotland and leading to a Mitchell touchdown, resulting in a tied game of 31-31 going into the final quarter.
Jones had a total of three touchdowns during the game, one of which was a 13-yard run in the beginning of the fourth quarter that gave the Scots a 38-31 lead. Despite this, Northern Nash quickly answered back with an Arrington touchdown, resulting in a tied game at 38-38. This set the stage for a dramatic end to the game, with Scotland scoring a touchdown but missing the extra point, followed by Northern Nash’s touchdown in the final two minutes to secure the victory.
Northern Nash, with a record of 12 wins and only 1 loss, will move on to the fourth round of the 3A playoffs. Their opponent will be Havelock, the top seed. Havelock emerged victorious over J.H. Rose, ranked 25th, with a score of 20-6 in the third round on Thursday night.
The season for Scotland comes to a devastating end with a loss. The team’s overall record for the season was 10-3.