Only three of the eight N.C. High School Athletic Association football championships had any suspense. Two of the five blowouts included a running clock after a 42-point lead was built by the eventual winners.
The West champ won six of the eight titles; only Wallace-Rose Hill and Rocky Mount claimed wins for the East. The greater Charlotte area won five titles as Mallard Creek, Charlotte Catholic, Crest, Shelby and Monroe all won.
4AA - Mallard Creek 49, Page 6: Charlotte’s Mallard Creek scored on five of its first six possessions and reduced Greensboro Page’s powerhouse offense – which eliminated Wake Forest, Richmond County and Middle Creek in three consecutive weeks – to rubble.
It was the third straight 4AA title for the Mavericks (14-2).
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In the first half, Page (13-3) had three fumbles and two interceptions for 23 yards on 21 plays. Meanwhile, Mallard Creek ran 36 plays for 290 yards.
Mallard Creek quarterback James Smith threw for 148 yards and two touchdowns, completing 10 of 13 passes. He ran eight times for 48 yards. Receiver Ryan Jones caught four passes for 95 yards and a score.
4A - Charlotte Catholic 27, J.H. Rose 20: Charlotte Catholic completed perfect 16-0 season with a Jaret Anderson 14-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds to beat Greenville’s J.H. Rose (12-3). Anderson ran for 193 yards and three touchdowns, including the final score to put Catholic ahead to stay.
Anderson also scored on runs of 32 and 1 yards, and was named the championship game’s most valuable player as the Cougars won the school’s fourth state title and first since 2005.
But the real star for Catholic was its defense, which made two key stops in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance.
With the game tied at 20, the Cougars dropped Rose’s Cornell Powell for a 3-yard loss on 4th-and-goal at the 1-foot line early in the quarter.
After its own drive was stopped on downs inside Rampants territory, Catholic made another key stop on 4th-and-short at Rose’s own 31 yard line. That stop set up the Cougars’ game winning drive.
In the loss, Powell – a North Carolina recruit – had a 90-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff. But a muffed Rose punt set up a trick-play 16-yard TD pass from Jonathan Newton to John Walton with 8:41 left, and Anderson had his first TD run nearly 3 1/2 minutes later for a 13-7 Catholic lead.
After being held to just nine total yards in the first quarter, Rose got its offense going in the second quarter. Powell’s 1-yard TD toss to Mydron Vines with 6:04 remaining capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive, and put the Rampants ahead 14-13 at the halftime break.
3AA - Crest 55, Southern Durham 21: Virginia recruit Tre Harbison was named MVP of the game after leading Crest (16-0) to its 32nd consecutive victory with his seven touchdowns and 295 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Southern (12-4) had topped the Boiling Springs, N.C. school in the 2013 state finals 38-31.
Southern led briefly, at 10-7, after North Carolina recruit Jordon Brown threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Russell, but Crest reeled off 28 straight points on TD runs of 28, 2, 72 and 28 yards by Harbison to pull ahead 31-7.
Starting their next possession at Crest’s 40, the Spartans stemmed the bleeding with an 8-play drive, capped by a 5-yard run from Brown that cut the margin to 31-14 at halftime.
Brown, playing at quarterback for just the second week after an injury to erstwhile starter Jalen Greene, scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards in the game’s last 15 minutes, but Harbison scored runs of 4, 1 and 26 yards as Crest pulled away.
Harbison’s seven touchdowns in a championship game tied him with Albemarle and former N.C. State star T.A. McLendon for second place in the NCHSAA record book. Southern’s Jaleel Scroggins, who had an interception, was named his team’s outstanding defensive player.
Named Southern’s most outstanding player on offense, Brown completed 13 of 33 passes for 225 yards and ran 18 times for 24 yards and two touchdowns.
3A - Rocky Mount 24, South Point 21 (OT): Chase Miller kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime and Rocky Mount beat Belmont’s South Point 24-21 Friday night in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A football championship game at North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium.
B.J. Sanders returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown and Nick Bynum rushed for two TDs for Rocky Mount (14-2).
Ryland Etherton rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and Diontre King had 139 yards rushing with a 27-yard TD for South Point (13-3), which came up empty in OT when Thomas Lampereur was wide left with a 22-yard field goal.
Rocky Mount rushed twice for seven yards on its overtime possession before bringing out Miller, whose kick gave the Gryphons their first state title since 1963.
Bynum’s 4-yard TD run with 3:06 remaining tied it at 21. South Point drove into Rocky Mount territory but Lampereur’s 44-yard field goal as time expired was wide left.
2AA - Monroe 38, Bunn 19: Earlier in the week, Bunn coach David Howle stopped by a local grocery store, where a cashier was anxious to learn more about Monroe.
“I told her that Monroe was very, very good,” Howle said. “Really good. Unfortunately.”
The rest of the Bunn community – more than 5,000 strong – discovered that not-so-secret assessment as the Redhawks capped off their undefeated season with a 38-19 victory over the Wildcats in the 2AA finale at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Bunn (13-3), making its first-ever gridiron championship appearance, was unable to counteract Monroe’s (16-0) speed on both sides of the ball, along with the Redhawks’ ability to spread the field while creating matchup difficulties.
“We knew (Monroe) was very athletic and had guys who could run,” Howle said. “It’s hard to simulate in practice what they do. We’ve faced some spread teams, but not with those types of athletes. We knew we had to play a perfect game and not get down.”
Monroe never trailed after putting together a quick, 47-yard scoring drive on its first possession of the game. Quarterback Zephaniah Wall, who threw for four touchdowns, found Desmen Robinson on a 2-yard play action pass in the end zone at the 7:32 mark of the opening period.
The Redhawks needed just 26 ticks into the second half to tack on another score as a quick screen to McManus resulted in a 60-yard touchdown catch-and-run to all but seal the crown for Monroe at 28-0.
Monroe closed with 507 total yards -- 283 in the air and 224 on the ground. The Wildcats, who forced a trio of Redhawks’ turnovers, gained 281 total yards, with Perry, his club’s offensive MVP, delivering 158 rushing yards on 28 attempts. Josh Terlizzi was tabbed as Bunn’s Defensive MVP.
2A - Shelby 57, Kinston 21: The Golden Lions (15-1) won their third straight state championship, eighth overall, by blowing out Kinston (15-1). Shelby led 21-0 after the first quarter and 36-6 at halftime, when it outgained Kinston 305-64 in total yards. Kinston had three first-half turnovers.
At one point in the first half, Shelby had 287 total yards and Kinston had 1.
Running back Xavier Brooks rushed 29 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Darquez Lee threw for 256 yards and five touchdowns (tied championship record). Receiver Jayden Borders had six catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Kinston quarterback Thomas Vermilli, under heavy pressure most of the game, completed 17 of 39 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted three times.
1AA - Wallace-Rose Hill 48, Mitchell County 28: The Bulldogs (15-1) ran for 342 yards against Mitchell County (14-2) to win their fourth state title in the last seven years.
1A - Plymouth 28, Robbinsville 20: Plymouth (14-2), in its fourth straight title game, won its third state championship since 2007 by stopping defending champ Robbinsville (12-3) in a rematch of last season.
Langston Wertz Jr. and Bill Kiser contributed to this report.