The Chapel Hill Tigers held on for a 23-20 win over Fayetteville Terry Sanford Friday night to advance to the East regional in the 3AA N.C. High School Athletic Assocation playoffs.
The Bulldogs’ 35-yard field goal attempt fell short in the closing seconds.
“I was trying to call time out. Fortunate enough for me, I didn’t get it in in time,” Chapel Hill coach Issac Marsh said.
The 12th-seeded Tigers topped fifth-seeded West Brunswick in the first round before edging the the fourth-seeded Bulldogs.
Quarterback Connor Stough led an efficient Chapel Hill offensive attack, while kicker Connor Albrecht was perfect, going 3-for-3 in field goals.
“(Albrecht) is one of those kids that you would love to have in your program,” Marsh said. “I’m blessed we have a Connor Albrecht in our program. In my opinion, he’s one of the best in the state.”
Albrecht hit his first field goal from 20 yards in the first quarter to give Chapel Hill a 17-0 lead. He would later hit 36- and 35-yarders to cap off his night.
Terry Sanford charged back in dramatic fashion to make this a game. On the ensuing kickoff after Albrecht’s first field goal, Jonathan Blackmon returned a 70-yard kickoff for a touchdown. Jordan Mcrae socred on a 44-yard run in the second quarter as the Bulldogs cut into the Chapel Hill lead, 17-13.
But Albrecht extended the Chapel Hill lead, hitting a 36-yard field goal with just one second remaining in the first half.
Chapel Hill’s defense and special teams proved to be the difference. The Tigers’ defense picked off Terry Sanford quarterback Mcrae three times, two occurring when the Tiger offense was deep inside Tiger territory.
“We wanted to try to illuminate the big plays for the other team,” Marsh said. “If we don’t give up the big play, we have a chance. It’s one of the things we go off of in trying to prepare for our opponents. Defensively, I told them at halftime, in order for us to win this game, it’s on your shoulders.”
Mcrae proved tough to handle though, as he rushed for two touchdowns, ran for 158 yards, and threw for another 72.
Stough threw for 214 yards and no turnovers.
“[Stouh’s] composure is great to have. He makes and moves the offense,” Marsh said. “We have receivers, and if we can give him time, he’ll find the open receiver to make a play.”