Big night for local football: Laney, Hoggard grab playoff road wins; strong second half lifts West Brunswick

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4AA playoffs

No. 5 Laney 41    No. 4 Fuquay-Varina 19

The Laney defense wasn’t impressed with the gaudy numbers Fuquay-Varina put up during the regular season and senior Imeek Watkins put his the offense on his shoulders Friday night as the fifth-seeded Bucs grabbed a statement victory, 41-19, to open the 4AA state playoffs.

Eli Boone.
Eli Boone.

One of the concerns those on the outside of the Laney football program saw heading into the postseason was the ability for the blue and gold to come back from an early deficit with their option offense and how it matched up against some of the bigger teams they would match up against.

The Bucs ended those worries in the opening half after rallying from being down seven twice over the opening 24 minutes of action.

Imeek Watkins plunged into the end zone on a short-yardage, fourth down situation to tie the scored 7-all midway through the second quarter and sophomore quarterback Sherod Sidbury capped an impressive drive late in the half to tie the game, 14-14, at the break.

Watkins got after it on the opening possession of the third period with a six-yard score to give Laney the lead for good. A scoring strike from Sidbury to Alfahiym Walcott in the corner of the end zone put the Bucs up 27-17 late in the frame and a pair of turnovers forced by the Laney defense with the 10-point advantage put the game away.

Following the Ryan Daborowski fumble recovery, Watkins added to the cushion on a short yardage touchdown. A Trevon McGhee interception on the next Fuquay-Varina possession sealed the Bucs first playoff win since 2011.

Watkins finished with over 200 yards rushing for Laney (8-4) as the Bucs head back on the road to No. 1-seed Wake Forest in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4AA playoffs on Friday, Nov. 25.

4A Playoffs

No. 6 Hoggard 38    No. 3 Durham-Hillside 34

One of the hottest teams in the area moving into the state playoffs continued to roll as the sixth-seeded Hoggard Vikings battled to a 38-34 triumph at No. 3 Durham-Hillside.

Josh Jones. Photo courtesy- John Crouch
Josh Jones. Photo courtesy- John Crouch

Junior quarterback Josh Jones and his offensive unit were able to move the football early and continued to impress late in the game when it counted most.

The Vikings grabbed a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Jones had a four-yard touchdown run on the opening possession for the early advantage and Will Morton connected on a field goal with 1:43 to play in the opening frame.

A defensive stop by Hoggard in the second period led to a 76-yard drive, capped off on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jones to senior wideout Collin Hairr to put the Vikings ahead, 17-6.

However, an 88-yard interception return for the score by Durham-Hillside late in the half cut the deficit to three at the break. The seesaw battled continued into the third quarter as Jones hit Hairr for the second time in the game to go up, 24-14, with 7:54 to play in the frame.

Hillside responded again, but the Vikings offense put up two more scores late in the game to grab the win.  Jones finished with over 300 yards passing to guide the visitors from the Port City.

Hoggard (7-5) faces a familiar foe in the second round as the crew from Wilmington heads to Greenville for a date with former conference foe, J.H. Rose (7-4), on Friday, Nov. 25.

3AA Playoffs

No. 1 West Brunswick 35    No. 8 Northern Guilford 21

After 21 days of waiting to get back on the field following their final game of the regular season, West Brunswick proved its might as the top-seed in the 3AA playoffs as the Trojans. West Brunswick got back to its strength in a 35-21 victory over No. 8 Northern Guilford in Shallotte.

Bubba McCray.
Bubba McCray.

Running back Bubba McCray had over 1,500 yards rushing during the regular season, but the senior was held in check during the final two outings of the conference schedule. That wasn’t the case on Friday night. McCray toted the ball 34 times for 204 yards and three scores in the win.

With West Brunswick in front 7-0 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 63-yard touchdown run by McCray, the Trojans added to their cushion on an impressive 97-yard drive and three yard score by McCray with 10:12 to play in the half.

Northern-Guilford was able to get on the board at the 5:33 mark of the second period and tied the game after forcing a West Brunswick turnover as the score was tied, 14-14, heading into the third quarter.

After allowing the 14-point lead slip away, the Trojans responded in a big way over the final 24 minutes. Owen McDowell helped engineer another long drive to start the second half and Tariq Thomas found the end zone on a four-yard score to make it 21-14 late in the frame. As momentum started to swing back in favor of the home team, the Trojans defense stepped up. Tommy Sellers grabbed a sack and forced fumble on a fourth down play and Jimmy Cochran returned to the recovery towards midfield.

The turnover led to McCray’s third score of the game  and Maliek King put the exclamation point on the impressive second half effort with a touchdown at 6:09 in the fourth quarter to send West Brunswick into the second round. King added 11 rushes for 101 yards.

As the top-seed in the bracket, West Brunswick improved to 9-3 overall and face No. 5 Jacksonville (8-4) at home on Friday, Nov. 25.

N. Guilford 0-14-0-7=21

W. Brunswick 7-7-7-14=35

 

No. 2 Lee County 48    No. 7 Topsail 6

 

2AA playoffs

No. 2 T. Wingate Andrews 27    No. 7 North Brunswick 7