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.
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“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.