By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern Alamance needed one extra push to make it past Williams High School in Thursday night’s clash in Mebane.
The Eagles found it in the second overtime session, pulling out a 20-17 victory when Josh Murray ran 4 yards for the winning touchdown.
“You’ve got to learn how to step up,” Eagles linebacker Coleman McGinnis said. “We’re all tired. We played four quarters and then we played two overtimes. We’re all tired, so we’ve got to get that extra gas.”
The Eagles (5-1, 2-0) put an early stranglehold on the Central Carolina 3-A Conference with their second straight narrow victory.
They dodged threats from Williams (4-3, 2-1), which drove 80 yards in six plays late in regulation to extend the game.
Eastern’s first possession in overtime ended with Nasir Price’s interception. When the Bulldogs took their turn, they were pushed back before Grant Spoon missed on a 30-yard field-goal attempt.
Williams went ahead in the second overtime on Brick Bowen’s 23-yard field goal. Eastern was pushed back by an illegal formation penalty to begin its possession, but pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Bulldogs set up Murray’s winning run.
“I saw the opening, and I did what I needed to do,” said Murray, who lost a fumble near the goal late in the third quarter when the Eagles might have gained control.
“They gave us an opportunity and we took it,” Eastern coach John Kirby said.
The Eagles have become accustomed to dramatic finishes.
“We have a few players on our team, most of our O-line and me, that have a lot of experience in games like that,” Murray said.
The Bulldogs insist they’ll grow from this latest venture.
“They’re one of the top teams in 3-A,” Williams linebacker Grayson Loy said. “We came out here ranked lower and we showed them what we’re made of. We’re not a team to look down on.”
It didn’t look promising for Williams for a long stretch, but by the end coach Patrick Stokes figured it was a case that the Bulldogs “couldn’t seal the deal.”
Trailing 14-7, a roughing-the-punter penalty appeared to doom Williams with 7:13 remaining. The Bulldogs didn’t get the ball back until the 2:55 mark, but they needed just six plays to score when Kylei Richmond scored on a 9-yard run with 55 seconds left.
Richmond, who finished with 104 rushing yards on 17 carries, gained 54 yards on the tying drive.
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“Perseverance is one of our team’s core values and our kids demonstrated a lot of that,” Stokes said. “There’s a storm coming in. We’re not equating our game tonight to a storm. But in big ball games, you’ve got to withstand the storm. You’ve got to be confident in the foundation. Our players did that for four quarters and two overtimes. So did theirs.”
Stokes is a former longtime Eastern assistant coach. He’s in his second year with the Bulldogs, so this was his first road game against the Eagles.
“We knew that he was going to want to bring it,” McGinnis said. “We know that they’re a great team in our conference.”
Williams scored the game’s first points on Jaelan Brown’s 9-yard pass to Cam’ron Jones late in the first quarter.
Eastern didn’t pull even until Jason Ball’s 15-yard pass to Trynton Wiley. The Eagles went up on the opening possession of the second half when Ball connected with Wiley, who made the catch in the end zone despite pass interference, on a 17-yard play.
Eastern’s Tyrek Samuel rushed for 83 yards on nine carries and Murray finished with 64 yards on 19 attempts. Ball was 12-for-21 for 110 yards.
Brown completed 21 of 30 passes for 198 yards and an interception.
[Story on other games continues below video of interviews with Eastern Linebaker Coleman McGinnis, Running Back Josh Murray, and Williams Linebacker Grayson Loy.]
Southern Alamance 60, Chapel Hill 20: At Mt. Hermon, Logan Foust scored three touchdowns and Jackson Parrish and Bradley Capps each had two touchdown runs as the host Patriots whipped previously undefeated Chapel Hill to begin DAC-VII Conference play.
Southern Alamance (4-2) has won three games in a row, pulling away after leading 14-7 entering the second quarter. The Patriots notched the game’s final 30 points without scoring in the last 10 minutes.
Parrish compiled 183 yards on 23 carries, Foust ended up with 133 yards on 20 carries and Stanley Eno had 116 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown. Those numbers helped Southern to 461 rushing yards to go with 12 receiving yards on one pass attempt.
Chapel Hill (4-1) gave up a total of 49 points in its first four games.
Parrish had scoring runs of 22 and 2 yards, Foust scored from 5, 7 and 8 yards out, Capps had scoring runs of 1 and 3 yards and Eno reached the end zone on a 7-yard play.
The teams combined to try eight onsides kicks. There was one punt in the game.
Cummings 32, Bartlett Yancey 14: At Burlington, Jonathan Paylor scored on a rushing play and a reception as Cummings opened its Mid-Carolina Conference schedule by winning on homecoming.
“It’s great to know our offense is clicking,” Paylor said.
It had been nearly a month since the Cavaliers (3-2) won a game.
“Conference games are just a little bit more special,” Cummings coach David Grimm said. “It provided us the energy.”
The Cavaliers also scored on a run from Marione Enoch and on Johnniyus Sharpe’s pass to Khavarie Hightower. Johan Diaz kicked a field goal and Cummings also recorded a safety.
“Our defense the whole game,” Sharpe said. “I just feel like defense was the name of the game for us. It was bully ball, really.”
The defense received rave reviews, particularly after giving up 58 points six nights earlier against Southern Alamance.
“They really kind of shut them down,” Grimm said.
Bartlett Yancey fell to 4-3, 1-2.