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ROCKY MOUNT CLAIMS 3A TITLE IN OVERTIME THRILLER

ROCKY MOUNT WINS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WITH OVERTIME FIELD GOAL
By: Anthony Perkins

Chapel Hill – The Rocky Mount Gryphons claimed their first state title since back to back championships in 1962 and 1963 on Friday night against the South Point Red Raiders in a 24-21 overtime victory.  South Point head coach Mickey Lineberger commented after the game, “We missed some plays tonight but it wasn’t from of a lack of trying. We left it all out there on the field tonight and I am proud of these young men.  We were picked to finish third in the conference but we got better every week, in every game.” 

Rocky Mount scored only 16 seconds into the contest after BJ Sanders returned the opening kickoff 81 yards to give the Gryphons the early lead.  Concerning the return, Lineberger said, “That was the first kick we’ve had run back on us this year and it was a back breaker.”

However, South Point answered the Rocky Mount touchdown just over three minutes later at the end of their first possession when fullback Ryland Etherton (99 yards, 21 carries) scored his first of two touchdowns on a two yard run.

After both teams scored in the first four minutes of the game it looked as if it could be a high scoring shoot out but both defensive units settled in to turn the game into a defensive battle.  Rocky Mount head coach Jason Battle said, “It’s hard to duplicate what they (South Point) do in a practice but our defense adjusted after seeing the first drive and we were able to make some stops after that.”


Rocky Mount fullback Nick Bynum (83 yards, 21 carries) posted the next score on a 15 yard run with 8:12 left in the third quarter and Chase Miller’s PAT gave the Gryphons a temporary 14-7 lead.  South Point rallied again on their next possession with a five yard run by Etherton and Thomas Lempereur added his second of three PAT’s to knot the score at 14-14.

 
The Red Raiders took their first lead of the game on their next possession that ran over into the fourth quarter with a dazzling 27 yard run by quarterback Diontre King (139 yards, 25 carries).  
Rocky Mount used the majority of the remaining time on an 18 play, 89 yard drive that Nick Bynum capped off with a five yard run with just over three minutes to play.   During that drive, quarterback Forrest Bell  (33 yards rushing, 210 passing) was directly responsible for converting two third downs plays one of which was a 19 yard scramble when they need 17 yards for a first down.


South Point advanced the ball to the Rocky Mount 28 and with only four seconds left on the clock, Lempereur’s 44 yard potential game winning field goal attempt had the distance but sailed left of the mark sending the game into overtime. 


South Point had the ball first in overtime but could only manage 6 yards on their first three plays.  A field goal attempt by Lempereur once again missed to the left by less than foot but then the Gryphons got their chance. After two running plays the Gryphons were at the three yard line with the ball placed on the spot where extra point attempts are usually spotted.  Miller came in to split the uprights and secure a 24-21 victory for the Gryphons.


In addition to winning the state 3A Championship, Rocky Mount finished the season with an eleven game winning streak and a 14-2 record for the season.
South Point’s loss ended a 12 game winning streak and handed the Red Raiders their first loss in a state title match.  South Point finished the season with a 13-3 record.
 

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