Saturday was a day for traditional high school football powers, as East Forsyth, Charlotte Catholic, Reidsville, Shelby, Murphy and Tarboro added state championships to their already impressive hauls at three different venues around the Triangle.
Here is a recap of all the NCHSAA state championship games, played at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium and Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium:
4A: East Forsyth 35, Scotland 28
DURHAM — 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
CHAPEL HILL — 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 must 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 finishes the season at 12-1.
2A: Reidsville 31, Northeastern 28
RALEIGH — The Rams led for only four seconds in the game, but it was the right four seconds in winning their second state championship in the last three years and 17th overall.
Led by quarterback Aaron Harris, who ran for a 55-yard touchdown and threw for another score, Northeastern (16-0) jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead. But Reidsville roared back in the second half
The Rams (14-1) tied the score on a pair of third quarter touchdown passes by quarterback Kyle Pinnix — a 5-yard connection with Breon Pass and a 32-yard strike to Logan Graves. Then after Harris put Northeastern back on top with another long touchdown run, it took just three plays for Reidsville to even things up again on a 37-yard pass from Pinnix to Demontez Canada with 3:06 left.
The Rams finished off their rally and took their only lead of the game when Zach Barber hit a 24-yard field goal with just four seconds remaining.
2AA: Shelby 42, North Davidson 21
RALEIGH — The Golden Lions (13-3) scored early and often in rolling to the 10th state championship in school history.
Sophomore linebacker Jack Hollifield got things started by intercepting a pass and returning it 93 yards for the game’s first touchdowns midway though the first quarter. Following a three-and-out, Shelby made it 14-0 on a 20-yard scoring pass from Isaiah Bess to Diavonni Daley. Bess and Dailey teamed up again in the second quarter and Fabian Pettis caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the third as the Golden Lions extended their advantage to 28-7 before the teams traded scores the rest of the way.
Bess completed 17 of 26 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions (13-3) to earn the game’s MVP award.
1A: Murphy 60, Pamlico County 27
DURHAM — The Bulldogs scored 21 first quarter points and rolled to their ninth state championship, giving coach David Gentry his 406th career victory — second on the NCHSAA’s all-time coaching wins list.
Murphy (13-1) scored just 17 seconds into the game when Micah Nelson picked up a Pamlico County fumble on the opening play and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. The Bulldogs took advantage of another turnover to score again later in the first quarter on a short run by K.J. Allen.
The Hurricanes (13-2) then scored to narrow the margin to 14-7 before Murphy ran off three unanswered touchdowns to break the game open.
The Bulldogs built a huge advantage on the ground, racking up 479 yards to just 153 for Pamlico. Allen led the way for Murphy with 153 yards on 18 carries and four touchdowns as he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Devonte Murray also added two touchdowns on his six carries with 106 yards.
1AA: Tarboro 50, East Surry 10
RALEIGH — The Vikings (15-0) rolled up 442 yards on the ground and held the Cardinals to zero yards rushing in winning their second straight 1AA championship and sixth title overall.
East Surry (11-4) actually scored first when Gunnar Jones picked up a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown with 4:02 left in the first quarter. But Tarboro bounced back quickly and efficiently by scoring on its next two possessions.
Although the Cardinals briefly slowed the Vikings’ momentum with a field goal late in the first half, Tarboro regained control in the second half by scoring five touchdowns over the final two periods.
Kiami McDaniels finished the game with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns, earning him MVP honors. Melik Ward led a Tarboro defense that surrendered only 138 yards by making eight tackles, including 2.5 sacks and three other tackles for losses.