J.H. Rose will make its first state title game since 2015 in a season where it started the year 0-3 and now sits at 11-4.
The Rampants used a late-game red zone stand to hold on to a thrilling 35-28 victory over visiting Jacksonville Friday night in the 3A East Regional title game.
Rose will take on Dudley in the 3A title game at 7 p.m. Friday at UNC’s Kenan Stadium.
“It means a lot, it’s been a little drought, but to get back there (title game) shows that we’re back,” Rose head coach Will Bland said. “We beat a very good Jacksonville team, so hats off to them, they are a very well coached team and they gave us all they can handle tonight.”
The Rampants found themselves leading by one score late in the game, but a couple of quick strikes by the Jacksonville offense quickly put the visitors at Rose’s 12 yard line.
What followed were three consecutive negative plays, as the Rose defense forced the Cardinals backwards, where they faced a fourth-and-16.
Jacksonville quarterback Josh Benton, who ran wild on the night for 291 yards on 19 carries, then appeared to come up with yet another big play as he scrambled up the middle.
Instead, a host of Rose defenders stood him up just a yard short of the yard to gain, forcing a turnover on downs.
After a Rampants punt gave Jacksonville the ball back with 1:36 left in the game, Klavon Brown came away with a game-sealing interception after Benton’s pass on the first play of the drive was deflected at the line of scrimmage.
With the game tied at 21 at the half, it seemed as if Jacksonville had all of the momentum as it had erased a 21-7 deficit in the final 10:17 of the second quarter.
The Cardinals then received the second half kickoff, but Rose’s defense stood tall, forcing a three-and-out.
On the ensuing possession, J.H. Rose needed just four plays to go 65 yards to the end zone, as Michael Allen capped the drive with his third touchdown run of the night from 43 yards out.
“I told them that if we can get a stop and a couple scores we could take a big lead back,” Bland said. “Unfortunately, that did not happen, but hats off to the defense, they did a great job bending but not breaking and came up with two big turnovers tonight.”
Allen finished the game with a team-high 153 rushing yards and four scores on 17 carries, as Brown followed with 118 yards on 19 totes.
“I owe it all to my O-Line, my offensive coordinators and everybody for executing,” Allen said. “We’ve been doing this all season and it finally paid off.
“This is huge. This is what it’s all about and I’m so excited.”
Will Taylor added 27 yards on the ground while going 12-of-24 through the air for 188 yards.
After Jacksonville tied the game at 28 on an 81-yard rushing score by Benton, Allen responded with his fourth touchdown of the game, scoring from 13 yards out with 27 seconds left in the third quarter to finish off a 13-play, 79-yard drive.
A shutout in the fourth quarter allowed the Rampants to secure the 35-28 victory.
After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, J.H. Rose found the end zone on three consecutive drives to take a 21-7 lead.
Brown tied the game with a 19-yard rushing score, before Allen scored on runs of 10 and 18 yards on the next two possessions, the second following a Jameer Roach interception deep in Jacksonville territory.
The Cardinals battled back to tie the game heading into the half on a 5-yard score from Christian Constant followed by a 3-yard plunge by Damon June with 1:19 left in the opening half.
After surrendering the two-score lead, the Rampants defense then stood tall, holding Jacksonville to just one score in the second half to help secure the win.
Dudley rolled to a 38-0 win over South Point in the West Regional final Friday night.
J.H. Rose is making its first NCHSAA championship game appearance since ‘15, when it suffered a 27-20 defeat at the hands of Charlotte Catholic in the 4A title game.
The Rampants are looking for their first state title since winning three straight at the 4A level from 2004-06.
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL North Pitt 61 D.H. Conley 43
The Panthers ran up a big win against visiting Conley on Friday night, thanks in large part to two big performances.
Zamareya Jones bagged 19 points while Aquarius Petteway notched a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds for North Pitt (3-1).
The Panthers are back on the floor on Tuesday at South Central.
BOYS’ BASKETBALL D.H. Conley 64 North Pitt 35
Conley ran away from the Panthers on Friday night, led by a 31-point outburst from Cooper Marcum.
Backing that up was Deontay Joseph with 16 points for the Vikings (2-1), who play host to Cleveland at 3 p.m. today.
SWIMMING Conley boys second
The D.H. Conley boys’ swim team edged out South Central for second place at a meet in Washington this week.
Highlighting the meet for Conley was Jay Vazquez taking second in the 200 freestyle in 2:10.03. Also second was Dylan McIntyre in the 100 backstroke (1:166.24) and the 200 free relay team of McIntyre, Vazquez, Tyson Cook and Bryce Gooding.
Conley is back home on Dec. 10.
WRESTLING D.H. Conley 72 Jacksonville 12
The Vikings won their conference opener in blowout fashion on Thursday night.
Individual results were not available. Conley wrestles again today at New Bern in the Swiss Bear.
MIDDLE SCHOOLS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL Hope 50, Wellcome 15
The Mustangs got a game-high 19 points from Britni Silver and 16 from Charlazha Wilson to open the season.
Hope is back on the court on Monday at Woodington.
BOYS’ BASKETBALL Hope 46, Wellcome 37
Spencer Guin led the Mustangs with 13 points followed by Rooke Knittle with nine and Greg Ransome eight for Hope.