FAYETTEVILLE — The Chapel Hill Tigers football team scored 14 points in the final six minutes of regulation and then Emmett Thorpe kicked a game-winning 22-yard field goal in the second overtime to defeat Fayetteville Douglas Byrd 23-20 in a 3AA Mideast playoff opener on Friday at Bob Paroli Stadium.
The Tigers lost last year 47-12 at Byrd, but this time senior quarterback T.J. Johnson fared much better. Johnson, who was sacked nine times in last years loss, threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the final period.
The Tigers (9-2) trailed 20-6 with 6:13 left in regulation, but Johnson connected with senior Alex Duncan on a 43-yard pass, setting up a 15-yard touchdown throw to Aaron Hirsch.
Chapel Hill recovered the ensuing onside kick, and seven plays later Johnson found Grant Deselm in the end zone to tie the score 20-20 with 38 seconds remaining.
Following Thorpes kick in double OT, Byrd had one more chance, but the Tigers forced a fumble on the one-yard line to seal the improbable win and send Chapel Hill to face Northeast Guilford next week.
This is the first time for something like this, said Chapel Hill head coach Isaac Marsh. Our guys played extremely well and just found a way to make the plays.
T.J. settled down and made the throws and led us. Nobody deserves it more than he does.
Chapel Hill junior Darius Allen also contributed to the Tigers ground attack, gaining 108 yards and scoring their first touchdown midway through the third quarter after the Eagles (8-3) led 7-0 at halftime. The Tigers misses the two-point conversion and trailed 7-6 entering the fourth quarter.
It looked as if the Eagles would beat the Tigers for the second consecutive year when two Chapel Hill special teams turnovers led to Byrd touchdowns coming in a one minute span.
That was when Johnson and the Tigers decided to avenge last seasons defeat.
Chapel Hill limited Byrd to just 70 total yards following intermission.