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– Wakefield held on to withstand a Wake Forest-Rolesville fourth quarter surge that ended just short of a two-point conversion Friday to beat the Cougars, 40-38, in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA East football playoffs.
The post-season contest featured much of the back-and-forth action that may have been expected from the two teams’ regular season meeting last month.
Wakefield (11-1) caught fire, scoring on five straight possessions, including three unanswered scores in the third quarter, but the Cougars put forth a 18-0 fourth quarter run to make it interesting down the stretch.
“I told them don’t do that ever again,” said Wakefield coach Rod Sink. “They’re not going to quit. Some plays went their way a little bit. … I don’t think we got too conservative. It was a game of breaks.”
Two blocked point-after attempts put the Cougars down and in need of a two-point conversion in the final minutes, but the Wolverines halted Wake Forest-Rolesville running back Chris Love on the attempt with 1:20 remaining.
On the ensuing onside kick attempt, illegal touching was called on the Cougars, giving the Wolverines the ball to wind down the clock.
“If we do convert that two-point play, who knows what happens,” said Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Reggie Lucas.
Wakefield won the week eight meeting between the two teams which ended up earning the Wolverines a No. 2 finish in the Cap Eight and home field advantage in the playoff match.
The teams traded spurts in the first half Friday. No. 7 seed Wakefield recovered from a fumble on its first possession to get on the board first with a 16-yard Chris Ballen touchdown reception, but the Cougars seized momentum later in the first quarter after Chris Leonard picked off a Connor Mitch pass. There was a little excitement between Wakefield and Wake Forest players on the Cougars sideline at the end of the play, which resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Wolverines.
No. 8 seed Wake Forest-Rolesville (9-3) took over on the 33 and used two plays to complete a 6-yard Chris Love score. They scored again on the next Wake Forest possession, this time with quarterback Mack Moore linking up with Cameron Fray.
The Wolverines offense went three-and-out in its next possession, but found the end zone on its next two with Mitch finding Ballen again and then capitalizing on a Wake Forest fumble which led to a Quinton Ridges 29-yard touchdown reception to lead 19-14 at the half. Mitch finished with 364 yards on 24 of 39 throws and five touchdowns. Ballen finished with 100 receiving yards and two scores, and Ridges led the Wolverines with 117 yards, including a 78-yard reception touchdown from Mitch.
Wake Forest quarterback Mack Moore completed 11 of 21 passes for 204 yards. The sophomore ran in a four-yard score of his own to pull the Cougars within two in the fourth.
Now the Wolverines head to 2011 state runner-up and No. 1 overall seed Garner next week to face the undefeated Trojans.
“We’re going to their place and we haven’t been a good road team,” Sink said. “We have to go execute on offense and be very consistent.”