Garner Cleveland: Sports

Wake Christian prevails in wild shootout with Harrells

Luke Ryals spent most of Friday night beating visiting Harrells Christian Academy with his arm.

But when it counted the most, Ryals beat the Crusaders with his legs, delivering his Wake Christian Academy teammates a 52-48 NCISAA BIG East Conference victory.

Ryals passed for 186 yards and three touchdowns while completing 8-of-16 passes, and rushed for 74 more and two touchdowns.

Of those 74, none were ever sweeter for the Bulldogs, who improved to 5-2 overall and grabbing first place in the Big East with a 1-0 record.

Even sweeter, was that Ryals ran for 21 of those yards on the game winning drive, including a two-yard sweep to the right side of the end zone with 23.7 seconds remaining.

It also snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Crusaders, making the see-saw win the sweetest this season for the Bulldogs.

“We haven’t only lost to them 10 years in a row,” said Bulldog coach Steve Cochran, “We haven’t even been close to them in those 10 years.

“It was always 50 or 60-something to10 or something like that. First time in a decade we’ve been ale to stay on the field with them.”

But this year was different - Wake matched Harrells score-for-score, and even held a 30-20 lead early in the third quarter, but saw the Crusaders, led by running back Marcus Scarborough, battle back to take leads of 34-30 and 48-44.

Scarborough led a devastating 374-yard running attack for the Crusaders with 163 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns - those touchdowns came on runs of 58 and 21 yards, respectively, as Harrells Christian lived off the big play.

“We watched Scarborough on film - he is such a great athlete,” Cochran said. “And a great football player - just watching him on film scared me to death.

“I lost tons of sleep this week because of Scarborough.”

The Crusaders scored on a 66-yard run by Joseph Phaneuf, who complemented Scarborough with 112 yards on 10 carries.

They also took their final lead with 4:04 to play, on a 61-yard strike from O. H. Rouse to Devontae Best.

But those efforts did not deter the offensive-minded Bulldogs, who responded with four TD strikes, including the three by Ryals.

Ryals’ first bomb was a 37-yard completion to Isiah Moore, who tallied three scoring grabs for the night.

Moore and Ryals teamed on a 45-yard fly pattern early in the fourth quarter, and Moore hauled in a 29-yard bomb from freshman quarterback Nathaniel Williams after Ryals was shaken up early in the second half.

Moore finished with 123 receiving yards.

“Isaiah is an outstanding young man - first of all, he has a lot of character,” Cochran said. “He has tremendous athletic ability.”

Ryals’ other bomb was a 49-yarder to Jonathan Earnest that gave the Bulldogs a 22-20 halftime lead.

“Luke Ryals is such a competitor,” Cochran said. “I can’t put words to what a force he can be.

“All I wanted to do was make sure when we were down at the goal in the final second, was that Luke had the ball in his hands — it was — and we scored.”

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