Holly Springs rallied late for a 42-35 triple overtime win over visiting Middle Creek on Friday in a pivotal Southwest Wake 4A game.
Holly Springs (5-3) trailed 21-14 but forced overtime with 26 seconds left on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Justin Armwood to Wade Johnson on fourth-and-13.
In the extra periods, Nehemiah Harris scored rushing touchdowns on all three of the Hawks’ possessions, and Middle Creek’s Brant Grisel was stuffed on a quarterback draw on fourth-and goal from the two-yard line to end the game.
Holly Springs defeated the Mustangs (6-2) for the first time in six tries.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” said Harris, who rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in regulation. “I told everyone if we have to go to 11 o’clock, let’s go.”
The Mustangs, losers of two straight after a 6-0 start, scored the game’s first touchdown when Luke Gray picked off an option play pitch and turned the strange interception into a 60-yard return touchdown.
Each team then scored in the final 2:15 of the first half – Middle Creek on an Ashton Mitchell 18-yard pass from Grisel to make it 14-0 and then Holly Springs on a 29-yard pass from a scrambling Armwood to Broderick Taylor with 11 seconds left.
The teams scored 21 in the final 8:24, beginning with Harris’ 12-yard run to tie things up at 14.
Stuart Fine gave Middle Creek the lead again on a five-yard run with under five minutes to play, setting up the late touchdown by Johnson.
“We’ve had it,” Holly Springs coach Wayne Bragg said of the play, a strike across the middle to the tight end Johnson. “We just haven’t shown that formation much. I told Justin to make sure to look at (Wade) because that was his first option, and it worked. Justin made a great throw, and Wade made the catch.”
“It’s right up there,” Bragg said of where the victory ranks among others in his career. “I’ve had some good ones, but right now this has got to be probably the best one.”
. Tray Staten rushed for 112 yards for Holly Springs, and Harris scored three touchdowns on seven overtime carries.
Fine and Romeo Cooley found the end zone for the Mustangs in overtime before Grisel was stacked up at the goal line to end the game in the third overtime.
“This is our biggest game,” Harris said. “Fuquay is our rival, but this is our biggest game.”