CHAPEL HILL — Two Shipleys added up to one state championship for the Weddington High School football team on Friday.
Brothers James and Will Shipley combined for 217 of their team’s 262 yards and accounted for three touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 27-14 win against Southeast Guilford in the NCHSAA 3AA title game at a soggy Kenan Stadium.
Older brother James also had one of his team’s three interceptions as Weddington completed a 15-1 season with their second state championship in the last three years.
“It’s like a fairytale ending,” James Shipley said. “There’s nothing more you can ask for.”
Southeast Guilford (14-2) came into the game allowing an average of just 10.4 points per game, but Weddington was able to top that by the end of the first quarter.
Quarterback Whitner Litton connected with Max Brimigion for a 42-yard touchdown on the Warriors’ opening possession. Then after a long touchdown run by James Shipley was nullified by a holding penalty, James took a pitch from Litton and hit his brother downfield with an option pass for a 50-yard score.
“I got the ball, saw a sea of orange, closed my eyes and threw it as far as I could,” James Shipley said of the trick play, which coach Andy Capone called ‘Black Knight’ because he first saw it run by Army against rival Navy. “Will went up and made a play.”
Weddington extended its lead to 20-0 by halftime on an 8-yard pass from Litton to James Shipley.
Southeast Guilford quarterback Ryan Douglas tried to rally the Falcons by running for one touchdown and throwing for another in the second half, with the latter coming on an 80-yard strike to Tyler Huff.
But another Will Shipley touchdown run and those three interceptions kept the Southeast Guilford comeback from gaining enough momentum to mount a serious challenge.
James Shipley, who was named the game’s MVP, caught 10 passes for 131 yards. Will Shipley was Weddington’s leading rusher with 49 yards. Litton completed 12 of 18 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Although the game was virtually even statistically, with the Warriors only outgaining the Falcons by a 262-253 margin, the difference in turned out to be mistakes — especially penalties.
Southeast Guilford was flagged 11 times for 58 yards, many of which helped stifle drives.
“This happened all year, so it’s discipline,” Falcons coach Kennedy Tinsley said on the muddy field after the game. “We were good enough in other areas and with other teams to get by with it most of the season, but those little things really catch up to you in games like this where you’ve got a really good team and they take advantage of everything they can.”
4AA: Wake Forest 9, Vance 7
Just when it seemed as though the Wake Forest Cougars had squandered an opportunity to win a third straight 4AA state championship, its defense came up with a big play to secure the championship anyway.
One play after a go-ahead 22-yard field goal attempt by Nolan Parris was blocked, Wake Forest forced a go-ahead safety with just 37 seconds remaining in regulation to earn its 45th straight victory in dramatic fashion.
Vance (14-2) took over at its own 1-yard line after the blocked field goal, but quarterback Nigel Summerville bobbled the snap and fumbled as he tried to hand off to running back Andre White. Although he was able to fall on the loose ball, Summerville was in the end zone, giving Wake Forest the two points it needed to break a 7-7 tie.
Vance drew first blood by scoring on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Summerville to Nyier Clark just 23 seconds into the game. It was the first points Wake Forest had allowed in its three state championship game appearances after outscoring its previous two opponents by a 50-0 margin.
Wake Forest (14-0) answered back with a 13-play, 52-yard drive on its second possession that ended with a 3-yard run by Marquel Haywood.
That was the end of the scoring until the final minute as the defenses took center stage on a foggy, wet night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
4A: East Forsyth 35, Scotland 28
East Forsyth came from behind twice in the second half to tie Scotland, eventually taking the lead with just 2:45 to play and hanging on for the victory and the school’s second state championship.
In the process, the Eagles handed Scots coach Richard Bailey his sixth loss in as many career trips to the state championship game with Scotland and Jack Britt.
The Scots (9-6) took a 28-21 lead with just over 10 minutes to play when James McKoy scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
But East Forsyth answered right back with a 22-yard scoring pass from Ty’Shaun Lyles to Mizell Hall. Lyles and Hall teamed up again on a 14-yard touchdown play with 2:45 remaining to give the undefeated Eagles (15-0) the lead and the championship.
Lyles was named the game’s MVP, completing 10 of his 17 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns including the game winner. Hall was his team’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player with four receptions for 56 yards and the two fourth quarter scores.
3A: Charlotte Catholic 17, Jacksonville 14
Charlotte Catholic also used the come-from-behind route to earn its second straight title and sixth in school history.
Trailing 14-10 with time running out, the Cougars (15-1) scored the only points of the second half by grinding out an eight-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a decisive 22-yard touchdown pass from Chris Walton to Michael Neel with 4:55 left to play.
Neither team was able to muster more than 250 yards of total offense in the defensive struggle. But Walton picked up three of his six completions on the final drive to pull out the victory. The Charlotte Catholic quarterback went 6 of 11 passes for 144 yards and the touchdowns.
Jacksonville finished the season at 12-1.