RALEIGH — LaChaston Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left lifted South Iredell to a 30-27 comeback win and the state 2-AA football title over previously unbeaten Carrboro on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Smith was stopped on two tries from the 1 before beating the Carrboro line on third down.
His score capped a 62-yard drive in 2:18 that erased a 27-23 lead that Carrboro had taken on a 12-yard scoring run by quarterback Alex McVeigh with 2:37 to play.
Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said the loss hurt, but the effort of his team offset that.
“We played with a lion’s heart,” Tudryn said. “We were really aggressive. It was an honorable game. We played our hearts out.”
Tudryn thought the Jags had pulled out the win on McVeigh’s score.
“I told Marlin (Johnson) and Alex (McVeigh) just before that drive, ‘We’re going to win this thing,’” Tudryn said. “They made me look smart.”
On the 80-yard go-ahead drive, Carrboro trailed 23-20 when it took over at its 20 with 5:15 to play.
McVeigh scrambled for 32 yards on second down, then found back Trai Sharp on a short pass that the elusive Sharp turned into a 21-yard gain. Senior Douglas Parrish carried 12 yards to the South Iredell 12 before McVeigh turned what appeared to be a pass play into a score.
McVeigh scrambled right, then retreated to his left and Sharp sprang him to the corner of the end zone with a devastating block on a linebacker.
McVeigh did the rest, hurtling over a defender at the flag stick.
“McVeigh scrambles around back there, does 16 backflips and gets into the end zone,” Tudryn said. “I didn’t draw it up that way, I guarantee you. I was all about the kids. They gave 100 percent tonight.”
South Iredell answered with a desperation drive of its own. Vikings quarterback Davin King picked up 24 yards on a first down carry to the Carrboro 38, doubling his rushing total on the night to that point.
He then found Vikings’ defensive star Michael Fisher on a 17-yard pass to the 21 and followed with a 19-yard completion to Scott Miller Jr. to the 1. Smith, a University of Virginia recruit who finished with 159 yards on 25 carries, was stopped on first and second down before scoring for the third time.
“He’s a bull,” Tudryn said of the 6-0, 225-pound Smith. “He’s a strong kid. They weren’t doing anything complicated (with him). Just hand it left, hand it right, but he got the job done.”
On the night, the Vikings outrushed Carrboro 227-178, but Carrboro had a 350-323 advantage in total offense, thanks largely to McVeigh’s 172 passing yards.
McVeigh, who rushed for 101 yards on 11 carries, got off to a fast start, hitting Johnson on a 56-yard pass play on the opening play of the game to set up his own 10-yard scoring run.
But McVeigh was intercepted twice on Carrboro’s next two possessions, both times by Fisher, who returned the first to the Carrboro 21 and the second to the Carrboro 35.
The Vikings converted the turnovers into 10 points — a one-play 21-yard drive courtesy of Smith, and a 20-yard field goal by Spenser Kingsley on the second.
“Alex was trying to do too much and held onto the ball too long (before throwing both passes too high),” Tudryn said. “Let’s face it, the ball bounced their way tonight.”
Tudryn was concerned about his players’ state of mind after the second pick, but holding the Vikings to a field goal changed all that.
“We could have went into the tank,” he said. “But that didn’t happen.”
Carrboro came right back, driving 39 yards to the Viking 24, but Mike McPeak’s try at a tying field goal was short from 42 yards.
The Jaguars took the lead midway through the second quarter when King was picked off by Malik Carrington at the South Iredell 25. Carrington returned it to the 12 and Sharp took it in from the 1 for a 13-10 lead with 7:32 left in the half. McPeak’s point-after kick was blocked by Julius Bowe.
South Iredell retook the lead with 3:07 to play when Eythan Kramm, operating out of the Wildcat formation, capped a 59-yard drive with a 7-yard run. Kingsley missed wide right on the PAT to make it 16-13 Vikings.
The Jaguars took a 20-16 edge with 5:27 left in the third quarter. The big play was a 32-yard completion from McVeigh to Sharp to the 7. Sharp scored from the 2 moments later on third-and-goal.
Tudryn was delighted with his team, if not the outcome, after the game.
“These kids put a memory in my mind that will last the rest of my life,” Tudryn said. “And I’ve got three kids.”
NOTES — Saturday night’s game is available for replay at Time Warner Cable’s Carolina on Demand channels beginning today.
Jaguars remain 'Sharp' despite heart-rending title loss
BY LEE MONTGOMERY
Special to The Herald-Sun
RALEIGH — Trai Sharp was as disappointed as any Carrboro football player who walked off the Carter-Finley Stadium field after the Jaguars fell 30-27 to South Iredell in the state 2-AA championship game Saturday night.
But the sophomore running back held his head high, knowing he and his teammates played their hearts out — and knowing the future is solidly in their hands.
Sharp was the Jaguars’ main offensive weapon against South Iredell, carrying 20 times for 62 yards and catching five passes for 91 more yards. Plus, Sharp had 38 yards on returns to pile up a game-high 191 all-purpose yards.
“They were swarming to the ball,” Sharp said. “They played a great game, obviously. I think we played a great game, too. We shouldn’t have our heads hanging. We played a great game, and sometimes your time runs out.”
Time seemed to stand still on a Sharp catch-and-run that helped key a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to put Carrboro ahead 27-23. After quarterback Alex McVeigh scampered 31 yards for a first down to the Vikings 49, Sharp caught an innocuous dump-off pass from McVeigh — and proceeded to make a highlight-reel run.
Sharp snared the ball in the left flat and broke one tackle, darted to the outside, broke another tackle near the sideline and kept going. In all, he shed seven South Iredell tacklers before being brought down after a 21-yard gain.
“It was basically just a pass out of the backfield,” Sharp said. “I was just able to break some tackles and make a play.”
But it was more than that. Carrboro needed plays like that to keep their hopes of a first state championship alive.
“That just shows how much I care about my teammates, what I’ll give to them and how I’ll sacrifice myself for this moment and for them,” Sharp said of his determination. “They’ll do the same for me.”
Sharp did a lot for his teammates in 2012, running for 2,224 yards and 31 touchdowns and catching 21 passes for 391 yards and four more scores in helping lead the Jaguars to the state title game.
“We’re 15-0, a lot because of his feet,” Carrboro coach Jason Tudryn said.
And he’s only a sophomore.
“It’s a bright future when you’ve got classy kids in your program who want to work hard, and they believe in you as a coach,” Tudryn said. “They want to be driven to success. I’m thankful to be their coach.”
Despite the stinging loss, the future was also on Sharp’s mind.
“It was a great experience for the younger kids on the team to see the level of competition and what’s going to happen,” Sharp said of the title game. “To see the short end, there’s going to be a lot of motivation going into next season.”
South Iredell 30, Carrboro 27
C—Alex McVeigh 10 run (Mike McPeak kick), 11:01
SI—LaChaston Smith 26 run (Spenser Kingsley kick), 9:11
SI—FG Kingsley 20, 5:15
C—Trai Sharp 1 run (kick blocked), 7:32
SI—Eythan Kramm 7 run (kick failed), 3:07
C—Sharp 2 run (McPeak kick), 5:27
SI—Smith 6 run (Kingsley kick), 11:43
C—McVeigh 12 run (McPeak kick), 2:37
SI—Smith 1 run (Kingsley kick), 0:19
RUSHING—South Iredell, Davin King 11-49, LaChaston Smith 25-159, Eythan Kramm 6-22, Scott Miller Jr. 1-5, Michael Fisher 1-(minus 19). Carrboro, Trai Sharp 20-63, Douglas Parrish 6-16, Alex McVeigh 11-101.
PASSING—South Iredell, King 12-21-1 102. Carrboro, McVeigh 8-19-3 172.
RECEIVING—South Iredell, Miller 3-31, Jaylon Stockton 4-32, Fisher 3-27, Smith 1-2, De’Andre Raston 1-7. Carrboro, Marlin Johnson 3-81, Sharp 5-91.
Records—South Iredell 14-2, Carrboro 15-1.