Turnovers haunt Eagles, Patriots; Paylor scores 7 TDs in Cummings’ loss
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Eastern Alamance’s season ended under an avalanche of turnovers Friday night in Mebane.
The Eagles were bounced from the Class 3-A state playoffs by visiting Fayetteville Sanford, which started strong on the way to a 27-17 victory in the third round.
The Eagles (11-2), who were the No. 2 seed in the East Region, added another conference championship to their collection along the way but fell short of a bigger goal.
“I’m glad I got to be a big part of this team,” junior linebacker Payton Wright said in the teary-eyed aftermath.
Unlike a week earlier against Williams, there wasn’t a big comeback for the Eagles.
“You hate it for your seniors,” coach John Kirby said. “You just hate it.”
Eastern looked capable of another notable rally after trailing 21-3. The Eagles scored on Josh Murray’s 2-yard run on the final play of the first half, an opportunity that was set up when Gage Parsons, who picked off two passes, made a return into Sanford territory.
By midway through the third quarter, the Eagles were within 21-17 following Murray’s 4-yard run.
“I thought we had something going,” Wright said.
The Eagles’ next possession didn’t produce a first down. Even when the Bulldogs reached the end zone slightly more than four minutes later, all wasn’t lost. Fumbling the ball back on the kick-off return, though, was troublesome.
“Disappointing,” Kirby said. “You can’t turn the ball over the way we did.”
Even a fourth-quarter goal-line stand by Eastern’s defense wasn’t enough. Seventh-seeded Sanford (11-2) will face undefeated Fayetteville Seventy-First in the regional semifinals.
Earlier, the Bulldogs turned a fumble on Eastern’s fourth snap of the game into a touchdown a few plays later. Eastern marched down the field but stalled, settling for Karsyn Johnson’s 23-yard field goal.
Sanford’s 70-yard pass play in the last minute of the first quarter followed an Eastern interception.
“We started off slow,” Eastern linebacker Cole McGinnis said. “We had some busted coverages. It happens. It’s part of football.”
Eastern trailed 21-3 when leading rusher Tyrek Samuel exited with a second-quarter shoulder injury. He had 75 yards on 13 carries to that point. Murray ended up with 32 yards on 10 rushes.
Eastern quarterback Jason Ball finished 14-for-34 for 172 yards with a pair of interceptions – both by Tyler Peuster.
Wright made 16 tackles and McGinnis was in on 13 stops, including a pair of sacks.
At Raleigh, Southern Alamance never got cranked up in a 35-7 loss at Raleigh Millbrook.
No. 13 seed Southern (9-4), which managed just five first downs, was limited to 77 rushing yards and 47 passing yards.
No. 12 seed Millbrook (12-1) recovered two first-quarter fumbles in Southern territory and converted those into touchdowns.
It was 28-0 by the time Southern’s Jackson Parrish ran 6 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 to play in the third quarter. That was set up by Millbrook’s muffed punt.
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Parrish ended up with 44 yards on nine carries. Teammate Logan Foust posted 20 yards on 10 carries and completed a pass for 24 yards before he was finished because of an injury.
Top-seeded Princeton held off visiting Cummings 63-55 in an East Region third-round game despite Cavaliers standout Jonathan Paylor scoring seven touchdowns.
The game was tied 35-35 at halftime after the eighth-seeded Cavaliers (8-4) scored the last 14 points before the break.
Paylor had touchdown runs of 31, 65, 60, and 5 yards in the first half before Khavarie Hightower’s 45-yard touchdown run allowed the Cavaliers to pull even.
Princeton (12-1) never trailed in the second half. After halftime, Paylor ran for touchdowns from 59, 13 and 3 yards along with a two-point conversion.
The Cavaliers scored the game’s final touchdown and had one more possession before turning the ball back to Princeton on a failed fourth-down play.