Middle Creek wide receiver Jamoree Ellis was a minute-and-a-half from being the goat of the game. Not the Greatest of All Time. This was the old-fashioned sports definition for a guy who cost his team a chance to win.
But senior quarterback Sean Brown didn’t give up on his teammate. After Ellis had dropped a third-and-10 pass from Middle Creek’s 35-yard line with just 1:27 to play, Brown went back to Ellis on fourth-and-10, even though Ellis had dropped earlier passes.
This time Ellis secured the ball for a 13-yard gain to the 48. Then he caught two more balls for 11 and 19 yards to Holly Springs’ 18-yard line. One play after a spike to stop the clock, Brown scrambled 18 yards for the game-winning touchdown to upset unbeaten Holly Springs 27-21 Friday night on the Mustangs’ field.
“He’s a playmaker,” Brown said of Ellis. “We have a lot of playmakers on this team, and he’s one of them. I had confidence in him.”
The Mustangs needed every play from Ellis and others to overcome Holly Springs junior running back Derek Coombs, who rushed 42 times for 296 yards and two touchdowns, both 3-yarders.
Middle Creek’s game-winning score came shortly after Holly Springs had rallied from fourth-quarter deficits of 17-7 and 20-14 with back-to-back touchdown drives to take a 21-17 lead with 1:55 left in the game.
On the first drive, Coombs carried the ball on every play of a 12-play, 74-yard drive. His 3-yard scoring run with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter trimmed the deficit to 17-14.
Middle Creek responded with a drive to Holly Springs’ 15-yard line before settling for a Kyle Ilhe’s 32-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead with 4:58 to play.
Holly Springs kept handing the ball off the Coombs, and he had runs of 6, 25, 19, 7 and 2 to the 1-yard line. In all, he had carried the ball 18 straight plays until quarterback Brock Wills scored on a 1-yard run. Payton Sowers extra-point provided the 21-20 lead.
But Brown wasn’t done looking for playmakers, including finding Ellis.
“We go over all kinds of things in practice,” Brown said of the game-winning drive. “No one gives up on this team. We keep fighting until the last seconds.”
RECORDS: Holly Springs (7-1, 3-1 South Wake 4A) at Middle Creek (6-3, 2-2 South Wake 4A)
THREE WHO MATTERED
Derke Combs, Holly Springs: Maybe it’s time for a Holly Springs technology student to create a Derek-O-Meter app to track his yards by quarter. Against Middle Creek, he ran 12 time for 65 yards in the first, 8 for 50 in the second, 13 for 100 in the third and 11 for 81 in the fourth.
Jamoree Ellis, Middle Creek: The senior wide receiver caught four passes for 55 yards, with all of them on the game-winning drive.
Tharius Suggs, Middle Creek: The senior wide receiver caught five balls for 66 yards.
▪ In the first 6:44 of the opening quarter, Holly Springs fumbled the ball on all three possessions deep in its own territory. The Middle Creek offense took over at the 20-yard line but turned the ball over on downs. On the second fumble recovery at the 19, an incomplete pass and two sacks by Timothy Inman and Austin Stroup led to a punt. On the third fumble, Middle Creek’s defense left the offense out of the equation. Outside linebacker Luke McDonald scooped a fumble at the 10-yard and returned it for a 7-0 lead.
▪ Prior to the kickoff, Middle Creek honored the CFF Carolina Challengers, a Pop Warner flag football for youths with disabilities in the Triangle area. For the past seven years Middle Creek football players and other students have participated as volunteers in a “buddy program” for Saturday morning Challengers games.
MC – Luke McDonald 10 fumble return (Kyle Ihle kick)
HS – Derek Coombs 3 run (Payton Sowers kick)
MC – Cold Prenoveau 1 run (Ihle kick)
MC – Ihle 26 FG
HS – Derek Coombs 3 run (Sowers kick).
MC – Kyle Ihle 32 FG
HS – Brock Willis 1 run (Sowers kick).
MC – Sean Brown 18 run (Ihle kick).
SCORES FROM AROUND THE TRIANGLE
Apex Friendship 35, Fuquay-Varina 14
Leesville Road 24, Broughton 19
Jordan 13, Cary 10
Northern Durham 35, Chapel Hill 14
Clayton 44, East Wake 0
Garner 42, South Garner 6
Panther Creek 20, Hillside 0
Middle Creek 27, Holly Springs 21
Rolesville 49, Knightdale 6
Cardinal Gibbons 43, Millbrook 6
Southern Durham 49, Northwood 3
Vance County 40, Orange 30
Cleveland 62, Smithfield Selma 0
Enloe 48, Southeast Raleigh 0
Wake Forest 34, Corinth Holders 7
Heritage 34, Wakefield 28