GOLDSBORO — -- In the first ever playoff matchup between long-time Carolina 1A Conference rivals Princeton and Goldsboro Rosewood, Princeton cashed in on its second chance against the Eagles and avenged a triple overtime regular season loss with a 27-7 victory in the third round of the NCHSAA 1A football playoffs.
The Bulldogs (5-8), who have steadily improved under the direction of first year coach Derrick Minor since that 43-41 loss to the Eagles in the last game of the regular season, wasted no time in getting things rolling on the offensive side of the ball and, perhaps not coincidentally, wasted little time getting the ball in the hands of senior playmaker Jamaal Allen.
On the Bulldogs’ opening drive, Allen’s seven-yard rush and nine-yard reception set Princeton up in good position on the Rosewood 38-yard line.
Once again, Allen’s number was called, this time on a double pass. Allen took the lateral from Princeton quarterback Michael Wooten and let sail down the field to a wide open Ryne Woodard. Woodard, the Bulldogs’ kicker, got behind the defense and hauled in the pass for the early 6-0 Princeton lead.
“We just came out more aggressive,” Minor said of his team’s mindset coming into the rematch. “We ran a few trick plays and we got that double pass and it scored and I think from that time on, it set the tone for the whole game.
“We were going to win this game.”
Rosewood could not get its offense in gear as the late season improvement shown by the Bulldogs’ defensive front continued to show itself. The Eagles, who ran over the Bulldogs to the tune of 422 yards in its regular season triumph, mustered only 67 yards on the ground this time on 28 carries.
With the Eagles struggling to move the ball, Princeton kept to the air to keep the Eagles guessing.
Wooten completed two long touchdown passes of 31 yards to Kameron McDougald and 48 yards to Jamaal Allen to push the Bulldogs out in front of Rosewood 19-0 at the half.
Wooten, however, was hit hard on his strike to Allen with 78 seconds before halftime and did not return for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore running back Johnny Frasier and the rest of the Princeton rushing attack was called upon to carry the load in the second half and, as has been the case in the Bulldogs’ unlikely winning streak, Frasier and company were up to the task.
Frasier’s 19-yard score in the fourth quarter iced the game for the Bulldogs who will live to play another game.
Frasier ended his night with 125 tough yards on 23 carries.
Forced to abandon its proud running game, the Eagles were forced to throw the ball and had mixed results doing so.
Rosewood signal caller Jacob Sasser completed just six of 19 passes for 70 yards.
Adrian Whack collected two interceptions and Cody Garner added another to help the Bulldogs preserve the win and get the revenge over their arch rivals.
The Eagles got on the board on a Tevin Hines 13-yard fumble return to cut the lead to 19-6 with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter but Princeton won the battle of field position for the rest of the game leading up to Frasier’s clinching score.
“Rosewood has had the upper hand on us, no doubt,” Minor said, referring to the rivals’ mutual history. “To beat them when it counts in (the) playoffs and now we’re going to the Eastern Regional Finals--it’s huge for the community.”