RALEIGH — Word of God’s Zackary Jackson picked off a pass inside the five-yard line to take a 50-42 win over Hobgood Friday. The victory earned the Rams a berth in next week’s N.C. Independent School Athletic Association eight-man title game.
Word of God (10-1) ran out the last four minutes to defeat a team they had easily beaten in week two of the regular season.
“It’s always hard to beat a team twice, they were going to come back harder,” said Rams’ running back Casty St. Louis. “Coach always said, play hard from the first play to the last.”
Leading 14-6 following a 50-yard run by the Raiders’ (8-3) Greg Mullins, the Rams scored twice in the final minute to blow open a 24-point lead. St. Louis had a 50-yard score from his team’s first play following Mullins’ big score, and then Kinatre James had a 43-yard fumble return as the clock expired.
Mullins led the Rams offense with 456 yards rushing on 40 carries.
“The scary thing about (Mullins) is he’s a sophomore,” said Rams head coach Kevin Washington. “The kid had pure heart and determination. He wasn’t going down for anything.”
Trailing at the start of the second quarter, Mullins scored touchdowns of 22 and 60 yards in a two-minute span, and Braddy added a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 30-26.
But with 2:28 remaining in the first half, Jason Fields connected with Shaquille Evans for an 18-yard score to push the Rams lead back to double-digits.
Fields threw for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and added a 49-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second half.
Hobgood stayed competitive and kept the game tight. Following Fields’ touchdown, the Raiders scored on back-to-back possessions. Mullins would score from 22 and 70 yards out, his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the game to tie the game at 42-all.
In the fourth quarter, St. Louis’ 2-yard run with 9:37 left proved to be the difference.
“Sometimes these kids in 2012, they see the big lead and ease up off the pedal,” said Washington. “They eased up and gave (Hobgood) hope. When you give anybody hope, in anything, they say ‘Hey, I got a shot.’ ”
Hobgood played like a team with nothing to lose. In the end, Washington’s players survived and advanced. And in a single elimination tournament, they found a way to outlast a tough Raider team.