Lejeune scores late TD, upends North Duplin
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 25, 2011 1:52 AM
CALYPSO -- North Duplin and Lejeune rode a roller coaster of emotions during the final three minutes on Friday night.
When the ride finally stopped, the Devilpups were left smiling.
Lejeune marched 55 yards in fewer than two minutes and Akile Jones' go-ahead touchdown with 46 seconds left lifted the Devilpups' to a thrilling 22-19, non-conference win at H.E. Grubbs Field.
The Rebels' second drive of the game spanned 70 yards and Devin Oliver's 4-yard score on fourth-and-goal put North Duplin in front 6-0 late in the first quarter. Jorge Juarez's extra point attempt was no good.
Lejeune pulled to within 6-3 on Zakk Gorman's 25-yard field goal with more than five minutes left in the second quarter. Gorman's 30-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining in the half tied the game at 6-6.
The Devilpups held a 147-130 edge in total offense in the first half despite going 0 for 6 on third down.
North Duplin strung together a 78-yard drive in the third quarter. Oliver's 12-yard touchdown run put the Rebels ahead 13-7. North Duplin had six runs on the drive of 11 yards or more. Oliver finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Lejeune (3-3) took over on its own 30-yard line with just fewer than 11 minutes left in the game. The Devilpups drove 70 yards and scored on Stephen DiCenso's 3-yard score to cut the deficit to 13-12. Lejeune elected to go for two and quarterback Gaven Allen's pass to Gorman gave the Devilpups a 14-13 lead. Lejeune converted two key fourth downs and a third down to keep the drive alive.
Oliver took the ensuing kickoff, got a couple of blocks and raced 90 yards down the sideline to the end zone. Mitchell Thigpen was stopped short on the two-point conversion attempt and the Rebels led 19-14 with fewer than three minutes left.
A taunting penalty on Oliver's kickoff return gave Lejeune good field position at its own 45-yard line with two minutes, 51 seconds left to play. Allen's 35-yard pass to Nick Cruz on third-and-six moved the ball to the North Duplin 16-yard line.
"We made way, way too many mistakes throughout the game," North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin said. "We made a mistake after we scored the touchdown and we gave them a shorter field on the kickoff return. We've just got to learn not to do those kinds of things on a Friday night."
Allen gained two key yards on the ground on fourth-and-one and Jones scored the go-ahead touchdown from four yards out on the next play. Kendall Lark tacked on the two-point conversion.
"We showed poise, toughness and heart," Devilpups' head coach Darryl Schwartz said. "It was just a great ending to a football game. When it came down to the time to have it, we stepped up to the plate. We did a great job. I knew they had it in their hearts."
The Rebels' final comeback attempt ended on Gorman's interception of quarterback Tyler Royal.
"Zakk Gorman had the best game of his life," Schwartz said. "He was everywhere. He has shown his best play to date. He was the best I've seen in my 35 years of an athlete playing at that level."
Lejeune finished with a 278-232 advantage in total offense. Allen was 5 for 12 passing for 100 yards.
North Duplin (2-3) begins Carolina 1-A Conference play next Friday when it plays host to Goldsboro.