HAVELOCK — Orange High challenged powerful, defending 3A champion Havelock for a half Friday, but were eventually worn down as the Rams ran away with the 42-7 Eastern Regional championship game.
The win puts Havelock back in the state title game Dec. 1 at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.
The loss ended quite a run for the 11-3 Panthers, and coach Pat Moser hopes this group of players have set a new standard at the Hillsborough school.
“I’m just as proud of this team as I can be,” Moser said. “I’d like to think we can be this good again, but it will take a lot of hard work, a lot of work in the weight room.”
“But Havelock is the best team I’ve seen in 24 years of coaching,” Moser said. “Just too much speed and I mean speed everywhere. The quarterback-running back combination was so fast. We were able to contain them for a while, but eventually they will get loose. That’s got to be the state championship team. They are that good.”
The Rams’ speed begins with elusive quarterback/safety Pharoh Cooper, who has committed to South Carolina.
Cooper completed 11 of 18 passes for 260 yards. All 103 of his rushing yards came in the first half as his team built a 21-7 lead.
Cooper started the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Lindsey. But Orange, unlike the Rams’ three previous playoff victims, refused to be intimidated.
Panther Jon Evans returned the kickoff 46 yards and quarterback Sean Motley fought his way into the end zone on a two-yard run for Orange’s only touchdown.
“They were up there, as good as we’ve seen,” said Motley, a three-year starter, of the Rams. “I just wish we could have won for all the people that were here for us.”
Havelock put the game away with scores on its first two possessions of the second half, and led 35-7 going into the final period.
Derrell Scott, who rushed for 101 yards, had three touchdowns on runs of 10 and 9 yards. He also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Cooper.
“The defense was so fast,” Moser said. “We tried to run traps, screens, tried to run right at them, everything you’re supposed to do against speed, but nothing seemed to work really well. We pulled off a few good plays, but that was hard to do. That’s a very good team offensively, very good defensively. Everything is sound on their team. I don’t see them getting beat.”