GARNER — Keon Young intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired to preserve Fayetteville Britts 14-8 victory over Garner Friday and earn a berth against Matthews Butler in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA championship game on Dec. 1.
Young stepped in front of Garners Armani Lanier with 2.8 seconds left to grab the Buccaneers third interception of the fourth period and fifth of the game.
Garner had driven from its 20 yard line after a missed field goal in the final minute. Vincent Jefferies completed five passes in the final 51.6 seconds, including a 31-yarder to Nyheim Hines, to lead the Trojans to a first and goal from the 14 with 2.8 seconds left.
I have never been more proud of a team, said Garner coach Nelson Smith, who announced before the season that this would be his final campaign as head coach. They never quit. I couldnt ask much more from them.
Neither team could mount much offense, and the interceptions were decisive. The Trojans led 8-0 and were at Britts 25 in the fourth period when Andre Scott intercepted at the 10 and returned the ball to the Garner 32. Eric Young scored on the next play, but Jeremie Bolobiongo stuffed Britt quarterback Mark McRae on the two-point conversion attempt and Garner still led 8-6..
Garner drove on its next possession to near midfield, but another interception set the Bucs up at the Garner 38. Carter dashed 24 yards to the 14 and McRae hit Edmund Grant for the go-ahead touchdown. McRae passed to Bryan Bryant for the two-point conversion and a 14-6 lead.
Another interception ended Garners next possession at midfield and Britt was able to run the clock down to less than a minute before missing a 36-yard field goal and giving up the ball.
The score was 8-0 for a long time, said Britt coach Brian Rimpf, a former Leesville Road standout. Our kids really responded in the fourth quarter. They never quit.
Garner led 6-0 at the half, the beneficiaries of a huge turnover, a big pass and a big break.
The catch was by Armani Lanier, whose over-the-shoulder grab resulted in a 36-yard gain to the Britt 28.
Jefferies hit tight end Tim Thorb with a 15-yard pass to the 11 and three plays later Tyler Hinton bulled in for the touchdown. The snap of the conversion kick was low and the ball never reached the kicking tee.
The break came on the first play of the game when Britt executed a double reverse pass by Mark McRae that fooled the Garner defense as the Buccaneers appeared to score on an 80-yard pass. The play was nullified by an illegal procedure call.
The huge turnover came when the Trojans Macien Laurent ended Britts only drive of the first half by recovering a fumbled snap on third goal at the Garner 12.
Thirty minutes before the kickoff, the home side of the stadium was packed, but late comers didnt miss many offensive outbursts. Britt managed only 87 yards in offense in the first period and Garner had 133, including 92 yards passing by Jefferies.
Garner picked up a safety when Austin Carrington and Laurent dumped McRae in the end zone after Trojans punter Kenneth Perkinson pinned Britt at the seven.
The game went pretty much like I thought it would, Smith said. Britt has a great defense and we have a great defense. The interceptions sort of turned the momentum around. Turnovers will kill you in a tight game.