RALEIGH — First and last, Lachaston Smith proved to be a strategy all by himself for South Iredell, which rode his 152 yards rushing and three touchdowns to its first N.C. High School Athletic Association 2AA football championship with a 30-27 victory over previously undefeated Carrboro.
Smith scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds, bulling his way into Carter-Finley Stadiums end zone from the 1-yard line.
They stood me up the first two times, Smith said. I knew I had to get my weight into it.
Smith was named Most Valuable Player of the game. Defensive back Michael Fisher was South Iredells defensive MVP after he picked off three Carrboro passes, including Alex McVeighs 50-yard heave to the Viking 5-yard line with five seconds left to play.
Smith, a 6-0, 225-pound linebacker-tailback who committed last spring to play next year at the University of Virginia, broke his shin in the first game of the season but came back to help South Iredell (14-2) make its best playoff run ever.
They ran him left, they ran him right, Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said. He was tough.
Eytham Kramm scored South Iredells other touchdown on a 7-yard runfor a 16-13 lead in the second quarter. Kicker Spenser Kingsley provided the Vikings first lead, at 10-7, with a 20-yard field goal.
Neither South Iredell nor Carrboro (15-1) had ever played in a state semifinal, let alone in a NCHSAA championship game.
Its a dream come true, said South Iredell quarterback Davin Kingsaid. My dad took me to state championship games when I was a kid. Now Im grown, Im here, and were champions.
Smith had rushed for just 498 yards prior to Saturdays game.
By comparison, Carrboros top rusher, Trai Sharp, had 2,159 before Saturday 143.9 yards per game. The Vikings keyed on Sharp, holding him to 42 yards in the first half, 62 total despite scoring two touchdowns.
McVeigh ended up as the leading Jaguar rusher with 101 yards and two touchdowns. But his two first-half interceptions proved costly South Iredell scored after each pickoff.
By halftime, Smith had 111 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries to help South Iredell lead 16-13 at the break. He seemed to get stronger as the game went on, pounding his way over Carrboros defenders on crucial third-down plays to keep the ball in the Vikings hands most of the fourth quarter.
Neither team ever led by more than four points in the see-saw game. The Jaguars took a 20-16 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard run off tackle by Sharp. McVeigh used passes of 15 yards to Marlin Johnson and 32 yards to Sharp to convert third downs on the 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive.