CHAPEL HILL — Better to win ugly than lose pretty, Chapel Hill coach Issac Marsh said after his Tigers pulled out a 21-20 victory in overtime Friday over South Granville.
“A win is a win,” Marsh said. “South Granville outplayed us in the second, third and fourth quarter. But our players showed real character down the stretch, especially in overtime.”
Despite a heavy rain mid-game that left conditions slippery in Culton-Peerman Stadium, Chapel Hill wide receiver Alex Duncan caught two touchdown passes from quarterback T.J. Johnson, including a 12-yard touchdown in overtime that led to the season-opening win.
The Vikings tied the game at 14-14 in regulation by scoring two unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter.
Chapel Hill scored first in overtime on Johnson’s 12-yard lob to Duncan, who one-handed the ball at the back corner of the end zone. But, Emmett Thorpe kicked what proved to be the winning point-after for a 21-14 lead.
The Tigers couldn’t keep South Granville’s talented Josh Bailey out of the end zone on the Viking’s first overtime possession. He scored from 6 yards out to make it a 21-20 game. But the Tigers, after a timeout to examine the Viking’s point-after formation, stoned Baily on his run for a conversion attempt.
Chapel Hill started the night fast, getting two first-quarter touchdowns on a 24-yard pass from Johnson to Duncan and a four-yard run by Darius Allen.
South Granville pounced on two Tiger mistakes to tie the game before halftime.
The Vikings’ first touchdown came on a four-yard, ground-pounding run by Bailey up the middle. Fullback Kenny Walls helped make it a 14-14 game with his one-yard plunge with 57 seconds left in the first half.
Bailey’s first touchdown was set up by a facemask penalty that reversed a Chapel Hill fumble recovery at midfield and gave the ball to South Granville at the Tiger’s five-yard line. Walls scored his touchdown three plays after South Granville’s Austin Holliday recovered a Chapel Hill fumble at the Tigers’ four.
Bailey ended the night with 108 yards on 25 rushes, well under the 258 he burned Chapel Hill for in the Tigers’ 19-17 win last year in Creedmoor.
“He’s going to get his yards,” South Granville coach Mike Hobgood said. “But they did a good job on him tonight.”
The Vikings stymied Chapel Hill’s offense most of the night, helped by the rain that contributed to three Chapel Hill fumbles on handoffs.
Chapel Hill’s defense countered with two interceptions by Bradley Randall off passes by Matt McCutcheon.
Chapel Hill moved from its own 15 to the South Granville 17 in the last 2:04 of regulation but couldn’t find the endzone on three straight passes.
“Before the overtime, I was walking along the sideline, telling the guys to get up, get emotional,” Duncan said. “I think we got up in overtime, and it ended up bing a big win for us.”