Mountain bound: North Duplin advances to western semifinals
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 19, 2006 2:03 AM
CALYPSO -- While the final seconds ticked off the clock, North Duplin assistant coach Danny Blackburn traded high fives with junior tackle Chris Warren as the players lined up at midfield to shake hands.
"Let's go to the mountains," Blackburn said.
Fourth-seeded North Duplin is headed to western North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holidays after its 14-0 shutout over 12th-seeded Rosman on Friday evening at H.E. Grubbs Field. Top-seeded and unbeaten Cherokee entertains the Rebels in a third-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A (small-school) western playoff game next Friday.
Rosman concluded the year 4-9 overall.
The Rebels (10-2) collected their first-ever postseason victory over a Smoky Mountain Conference team in three tries. They shut out a playoff opponent for the first time since 2003 and sixth time overall since 1972.
"We up some yardage at times, but we kept hanging tough and finding a way to make a play here or there," said North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin. "We came up with a stop or turnover we needed to get the offense back out there."
North Duplin's defense held Rosman scoreless on four possessions inside the Rebels' 27-yard line. The Tigers managed just 15 yards of total offense in the third quarter and endured 10 hits behind the line of scrimmage.
Rosman turned the ball over on downs on five of seven possessions, punted twice and lost a first-quarter fumble.
"The continuity of our offense wasn't that good tonight," said veteran Rosman coach Jim Fox.
Injuries also compounded the Tigers' offensive woes. Starting quarterback Jake Raines, nagged by a high-ankle sprain, left the game after Rosman's first offensive series. Josh Riddle played nearly every snap despite missing practice all week due to a knee injury.
"Jake tried to play and Josh hadn't practiced all week," said Fox. "He tried. We played them hard and they're a good football team."
Trailing 7-0, the Tigers benefited from a short punt and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Backup quarterback Zack Whiman, a sophomore, set up shop on the Rebels' 25-yard line.
Two rushing plays and a dropped pass over the middle left Rosman facing 4th-and-6 at the North Duplin 21. Whiman rolled out and fired a pass to the left corner of the end zone, but Rebel junior Doug Lloyd broke up the throw intended for 6-foot-1 tight end Cody Petit.
"That was critical and we needed to put that one in," said Fox. "The first thing we do is drop a snap and that's a kid stuck playing quarterback. (Riddle) is our back-up quarterback, but didn't take any snaps this week.
"We just didn't take advantage of our scoring opportunities."
Meanwhile, North Duplin couldn't generate any offense for two-plus quarters. The Tigers tightened their defense after the Rebels scored on their opening series.
Rosman held North Duplin to three first downs in the second and third quarters combined. False-start penalties also factored into the Rebels' misfiring on offense during that stretch.
"They were making some good calls on defense," said Lloyd. "I thought we moved the ball pretty well, but not like we needed to (overall). We had some spurts and we've got to work that out."
The teams traded possessions heading into the fourth quarter and North Duplin appeared to stall at midfield with 11 minutes left in regulation. A false-start penalty moved the ball back five yards and two rushing plays set up a 3rd-and-12 situation at midfield.
Lloyd took the snap, got flushed from the pocket and scrambled toward the Rebels sideline. Just as a Rosman defender closed in, Lloyd found a wide-open Ryan Killette inside the 20-yard line.
Killette caught the pass to set up a first down at the Tiger 15.
"He wasn't my first option because I was looking inside," said Lloyd. "It wasn't there and I had to roll out. He was back there doing jumping jacks, so I had to hit him."
Lloyd capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
"That may have been the play of the game," said Martin. "Doug moved around and kept it alive. He made a great play."
Rosman threatened on its final two possessions. Daniel Howell's third-down sack and Ryan Killette's fourth-down interception -- on the Tigers' final series -- preserved the Rebels' win.
North Duplin clinched its first Elite Eight appearance since 2003.
"A lot of the success we're having right now is due to the work these kids have done the last couple of years," said Martin. "I told them before the game we've endured two years of playing on the road with a lot of young kids, and it's great to come out and play at home.
"It's great to go there and make something happen with a group of stronger, more-experienced players."
North Duplin lost to Cherokee in the 1978 playoffs.
Rosman 0 0 0 0 -- 0
North Duplin 7 0 0 7 -- 14
ND -- Vann 4 fumble run (Vasquez kick), 8:45
ND -- Lloyd 4 run (Vasquez kick), 7:48
First downs 10 9
Rushes-yds 38-158 37-169
Passing yds 48 60
Total yards 206 229
C-A-I 3-17-1 5-11-0
Fumbles-lost 4-1 1-0
Punts-avg. 2-37.0 3-28.3
Penalties-yds 5-32 7-48
RUSHING -- Rosman -- Jeremy McCarter 5-10; Wesley Whitman 9-27; Josh Riddle 12-79; Jake Raines 2-6; Zach Whiman 11-36. North Duplin -- Doug Lloyd 20-87, TD; Michael Schilling 14-70; Demetrius Vann 1-4, TD; Billy Mello 2-8.
PASSING -- Rosman -- Wesley Whitman 0-1-0 0; Zach Whiman 0-5-0; Josh Riddle 3-11-1 48. North Duplin -- Doug Lloyd 5-11-0 60.
RECEIVING -- Rosman -- Cody Petit 1-15; Wesley Whitman 1-13; Dustin Mehaffy 1-20. North Duplin -- Demetrius Vann 3-19; Ryan Killette 2-33; Michael Schilling 1-8.
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