By Steven J. Gaither
FUQUAY-VARINA -- Fuquay-Varina rallied in the second half to beat Tri-Nine 4A Conference rival Green Hope 42-33 in the first round of the state 4A football playoffs.
“Our kids have played like that all year,” said Fuquay-Varina coach Ryan Habich. “We haven’t had many blowouts. We’ve been down throughout the whole year. That’s one thing I can really say about this year’s bunch, they don’t panic.”
Much like their regular season meeting, Green Hope dominated the first half. After an impressive seven play, 61-yard drive to open the game, Ridge Ford stepped in front of Fuquay-Varina pitch attempt and returned the ball 62 yards to give Green Hope a 14-0 lead with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
Fuquay responded with a few big plays of their own, scoring a touchdown and cutting the margin to seven in the first quarter. They trailed 17-14 at the half.
In the second half, every ball seemed to bounce Fuquay-Varina’s way. And most of those seemed to find their way into Tyler MacBride’s hands.
With his team leading by just one score early in the fourth quarter, he recovered a backward swing pass in the endzone to give his team a 35-20 cushion. After a Green Hope touchdown he, recovered their onside attempt and returned the ball 48 yards for a touchdown.
Green Hope would respond with a score, but failed to convert the extra point, and found themselves down 42-33. After Fuquay-Varina failed to score, it got the ball back with under two minutes remaining. They still had a chance, until MacBride picked off Chris Tuttwiler's pass to end the game.
“We made plays when we needed to," Habich said. "And that’s what you have to do in the playoffs."