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Northeastern falls short against Wallace-Rose Hill

Wallace-Rose Hill 63 Northeastern       52

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Northeastern’s J.R. Walker breaks a tackle as he runs the ball in the Eagles’ 63-52 loss to Wallace-Rose Hill in the third round of the 2A state playoffs at Northeastern Athletic Complex, Friday.

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By Craig Moyer
Sports Writer

Sunday, November 26, 2017

With two star-studded offenses going head to head for a trip to the east regional final, a high-scoring game is expected, as Northeastern and Wallace-Rose Hill went back-and-forth throughout the first three quarters Friday night.

The contest at Northeastern Athletic Complex was part of the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A playoffs.

The Eagles found themselves trailing 49-40 heading into the final quarter, despite countering every score by the Bulldogs on the night.

Northeastern (13-1) drove down the field and a Traveon Freshwater seven-yard run appeared to break the goal line, but was ruled just short.

After being ruled just short of the end zone on the following two plays, Freshwater broke in four a one-yard score on fourth and goal, but the play was called back for a false start.

On fourth and goal from the five, Dallas Hall’s pass fell incomplete and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.

Wallace-Rose Hill (12-1) struck three plays later as quarterback Michael Basden connected with Desmond Newkirk on a 92-yard passing score to give the Bulldogs a 56-40 lead with just over four minutes left to play.

Wallace-Rose Hill held on to the lead in the final minutes, securing the 63-52 win for a trip to the east regional final and ending Northeastern’s undefeated season.

Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore said he considered Friday’s game the east regional final and felt the two teams are the top two teams at the 2A level.

“We played hard, there were really good players on both sides, but unfortunately somebody had to lose,” Moore said.

Wallace-Rose Hill’s high-powered rushing attack did not take long to get started, as Javonte Williams broke a 64-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead just 11 seconds into the game.

J.R. Walker ran in from 51 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 halfway through the opening quarter.

After the Bulldogs retook the lead, Dallas Hall connected with Holden Hodge 23-yard pass and catch over two defenders to tie the game at 14-14 after the opening quarter.

Williams added his second score of the night in the second quarter from six yards out, but a 1-yard touchdown run from Hall brought the score to 21-21.

On the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage on the following drive, Williams broke another long touchdown run, this time from 50 yards out, Wallace-Rose Hill took a 28-21 lead into the half.

On a fourth and goal in the third quarter, Hall connected with Hodge for the second time in the game for a 6-yard score to bring the game to it’s fourth tie at 28-28.

Newkirk put the Bulldogs back in front with a 13-yard run, but Freshwater responded on the Eagles’ next play with a 56-yard score, but a missed extra point left the score at 35-34.

Newkirk’s third score of the night came on a 66-yard touchdown run on third and three with just five seconds left in the third quarter, sending Wallace-Rose Hill into the final quarter with a 49-40 lead.

Moore gave credit to Wallace-Rose Hill for coming away with the hard-fought victory and said their ability to make plays at key moments was the difference.

“It was two heavyweights going at it, they made some plays they needed to make and we did not make a couple plays we needed to make,” Moore said.

After the Eagles’ turnover on downs and the Bulldogs’ long touchdown pass, some of the capacity crowd began to head to the exits with just four minutes left to play.

Hall added a one-yard rushing score on the following drive, but the Eagles were unable to convert a two-point conversion, as the Bulldogs maintained a two-score lead at 56-46.

Hall, who was one of several explosive threats on the Eagles’ offense this season, spoke after the game on how this game was not going to change his view on the team’s terrific season.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever had, the hardest I’ve ever worked and it was a blessing to be a part of such a special team,” Hall said.

Hall added that he takes nothing away from the Bulldogs and was proud the team did their best against a tough opponent.

A pair of touchdown runs from Wallace-Rose Hill’s Malcolm Gray and Northeastern’s Walker in the closing minutes brought the final score to 63-52.

Although Northeastern’s season ended two weeks before they had hoped for, Moore said his team accomplished a lot this season and has a lot to be proud of.

“We had a great year and we are not going to let this one game define our season,” Moore said.

Wallace-Rose Hill travels to Southwest Onslow in the east regional final Friday with a trip to the state championship on the line.

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