Class 2-AA -- North Lenoir 24, Randleman 21
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on November 14, 2004 2:03 AM
LAGRANGE -- Antonio Hamilton's four touchdowns and 333 yards of rushing led North Lenoir to a 24-21 come from behind win over visiting Randleman in the opening round of the Class 2-AA (large-school) state football playoffs.
"Poetic justice," said North Lenoir coach Wayne Jackson about the first playoff victory in the history of the school. "This one was for all the kids that played football here who never had a chance to win a playoff game."
Both teams adapted well to the elements. A torrential downpour that persisted through the entire game turned the field into a quagmire. There were six fumbles in the game, but only one was lost.
Playing in their first playoff game in seven years, Randleman faced a mighty challenge. But the Rams struggled to slow North Lenoir's rushing game -- and particularly Hamilton, the second-leading rusher in the area.
After winning the coin toss and deferring, North Lenoir took the opening kickoff out to their own 35. Hamilton took a hand off from quarterback Andrew Manning on the third play of the series and raced around right end for 58 yards with the opening score at 10:38.
"This was the hardest I've ever seen him run," said Jackson. "He couldn't have done anything without our offensive line. They're tough kids. Russell Rouse, Jamie Shields, Joey Reddington, Jordan Smith, and James Wiggins are the heart of our football team."
On the next series, Manning needed only two plays to set up another touchdown. Hamilton went left this time, running 68 yards untouched to paydirt and a 12-0 lead.
Randleman caught a break with a fumble recovery at the Hawk 39. Quarterback Lee Covington hit tight end Jared Poe with a nine-yard pass as the first quarter was ending. Covington had an outstanding night, going 10-for-25 for 209 yards.
After another touchdown by Hamilton, Rams halfback Charlie Bailey scored twice to put the Tigers ahead for the first time at 21-18 midway through the final period.
Jackson again turned to his running game. Faced with a third-and-ten from the North Lenoir 26, E.J. Brown broke several tackles on a 27-yard run to get the key first down. Hamilton then scampered 34 yards to set up his game winning four-yard score with 2:23 remaining.
Covington ran 13 plays in a final attempt to win. Starting at his own 15, he connected on four passes, taking the ball to the Hawk 17. With seconds remaining, Adam Keams watched his 38-yard field goal attempt to tie the game fall just short of the goal post.
"We're in a whole new ball game now," said Jackson. "It's called 'football survivor.' Each week someone is going to get voted off the island. Those, who want to work together as a team, will continue to play."
Randleman 7 0 7 7 -- 21
North Lenoir 12 0 6 6 -- 24
NL -- Hamilton 58 run (run fail), 10:28
NL -- Hamilton 68 run (pass fail), 8:21
R -- Poe 9 pass from Covington (Keams kick), 1:25
NL -- Hamilton 4 run (run failed), 2:21
R -- Bailey 1 run (Keams kick), 0:04
R -- Bailey 8 run (kick wide), 7:30
NL -- Hamilton 4 run (pass fail), 2:23
Randleman North Lenoir
First downs 13 15
Rushes-yds 30-154 54-385
Pass-yds 209 0
Total yds 363 385
Comp-att-int 10-25-0 0-2-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 4-1
Penalties-yds 3-30 3-12
Punts-avg 5-30.6 1-27.0
RUSHING -- Randleman -- Charlie Bailey 23-139-2; Josh Mulles 5-19; Josh Hill 1-1; Lee Covington 1-(-5). North Lenoir -- Antonio Hamilton 30-333-4; E.J. Brown 13-46; Eric Whitfield 3-4; Ervin Atkins 2-1; Andrew Manning 6-1.
PASSING -- Randleman -- Lee Covington 10-25-209-0 TD. North Lenoir -- Andrew Manning 0-2-0.
RECEIVING -- Randleman -- Jared Poe 3-90; Josh Mulles 3-62 TD; Tyler Lindsey 2-30; Brandon Vinay 1-19; Robbie Austin 1-8.
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