Orange’s Bryse Wilson beat Lee County in a 3AA first-round playoff game with his hands, his legs and a little extra film work.
Wilson, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior wide receiver and linebacker, stopped a 2-point conversion run with 8 seconds to play to preserve the Panthers’ 21-20 win over Lee County Friday night at Orange’s field.
Lee County had scored on fourth-and-goal on quarterback Emond Caldwell’s 3-yard run to set up the game-deciding play. The Yellow Jackets lined up as if they were to attempt a PAT kick but instead faked it and fed the ball to Will Shoop in the backfield.
Wilson broke through the line to make the tackle.
“We had seen that muddle huddle on film,” said Wilson, who was lined up in a guard. “I knew they were going to pitch it to him. I was able to shoot through the gap (untouched).”
Orange, seeded No. 6 in the East, improved to 11-1 for the year, while Lee County finished at 9-3.
Orange will either play at No. 3 Corinth Holders or host No. 14 Union Pines in the second round.
Also in the 3AA East, No. 12 Chapel Hill (9-3) will play at No. 4 Terry Sanford (9-3) next Friday. FTS blew out Eastern Guilford 45-6 Friday.
The Tigers intercepted three passes, forced six turnovers and pulled away in the second half to win 42-14 Friday at West Brunswick, the fifth seed in the East Region.
No. 10 Northwood ended its year at 9-3 after a 56-26 loss at No. 7 Northern Guilford. All three of the Chargers’ losses came to teams ranked by the Associated Press in the top 10 of the state’s 3A classification: No. 1 and undefeated Southern Durham, then-fifth-ranked and now No. 10 Orange, and the No. 9-ranked Nighthawks (10-1).
Friday night in Auman Stadium, Wilson contributed on both sides of the ball for Orange. He caught a 24-yard touchdown throw from Garrett Cloer in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead and later nabbed an interception in the second quarter.
Orange opened the scoring on its first possession by taking advantage of field position as a result of a Lee County’s failed onside kick.
Jack Lemaster, an offensive and defensive lineman, handled the pop-up kick and fell to the ground at the Panthers’ 48-yard line. Orange responded with a seven-play, 52-yard scoring drive. Six straight running plays were followed by Cloer’s 24-yard pass to Wilson in the back middle of the end zone for a 7-0 lead following Davis Dixon’s PAT.
“The quarterback hit me right in the chest, I concentrated and made the catch,” Wilson said.
The 7-0 lead appeared to stand up in the first half until Lee County recovered a fumble at Orange’s 27-yard line and converted into a 1-yard touchdown run by Jerry Pullum to tie the contest with 5:23 remaining in the half.
Orange managed a 14-7 lead by halftime when the Panthers converted a turnover into a score. One play after a fumble recovery, Cloer found Josh Kiehle 5 yards behind the secondary down the left hash mark for a 61-yard catch-and-run TD.
Lee County running back Jerry Pullum led the Yellow Jackets with 27 carries for 176 yards and two touchdowns.