10/02/11 — Goldsboro holds off North Duplin

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Goldsboro holds off North Duplin

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 2, 2011 12:04 AM

CALYPSO -- North Duplin almost tasted the sweet satisfaction of a long-awaited victory Saturday evening.

Karon Alston made sure the Rebels didn't pop the cork.

Alston returned a game-deciding kickoff 77 yards to the house, and lifted Goldsboro to a come-from-behind, 21-20 triumph in the Carolina 1-A Conference opener for both teams at H.E. Grubbs Field.

"We got out of here by the skin of our teeth tonight," said Cougars head coach Eric Reid.


Trailing 15-14 early in the final period, North Duplin quarterback Tyler Royal directed a nine-play scoring drive that included two back-breaking penalties against Goldsboro. An unsportsmanlike conduct infraction put the Rebels at the Cougars' 38-yard line and Julio Mora broke loose for a 28-yard gain down the left sideline.

The possession stalled on fourth down and Jorge Jaurez's 19-yard field goal sailed wide left. But Alston committed a roughing the kicker penalty and Devin Oliver cashed in on the next play to put the Rebels ahead 20-15 with 6:06 left in regulation.

Alston eagerly awaited the chance to atone for his mistake.

"I told myself I had to get it back," said Alston. "The coaches said it was my turn (for a TD) because I hadn't one all year and the boys led the way, I couldn't have it done it without them. I saw the seam and cut back in.

"It was a blessing from God."

And it was a kiss from Lady Luck.

Alston took the kickoff after Oliver collected his 16th touchdown of the season, and started toward the Cougars' sideline. Teammates Jalen Sprueill and Rakim Floyd sprung Alston with a great block, and the 148-pound sprinter did the rest.

A mere 12 seconds later, Goldsboro led 21-20.

"My boys were tremendous, played as hard as they could all night," said North Duplin head coach Hugh Martin. "It's a tough way to give it up. That run on the kickoff, we knew how fast 10 (Alston) was and we tried to keep it out of his hands, but he found a way to get ahold of it.

"He made the play."

The Rebels fed the Cougars a steady diet of Mora up the middle and tried to utilize Oliver's speed on the perimeter on their next possession. Brandon McKinney tackled Oliver for a loss and Royal's fourth-down pass fell incomplete as the drive stalled near midfield.

Goldsboro took over and erased the final 3-plus minutes on the clock.

"We were lucky," said Reid.

The Cougars (3-3 overall, 1-0 CC) took the game's opening possession and marched 11 plays to the end zone. Julius Murphy's 30-yard touchdown strike to Rodney Cook Jr., the area's leading receiver, capped the 4-minute possession. Murphy completed six passes among three different receivers and finished with 111 yards.

North Duplin forged ahead 14-7 on second-quarter touchdown runs from Oliver that covered 5 and 62 yards. Oliver led all rushers with 117 yards on 16 totes.

"They went to a bunch formation and with his speed and deception, he got lost in there a couple of times, then got outside," said Reid. "A couple of times they hit us with a nice counter that also got him outside. We've got to be more fundamentally sound and know to stay in your lanes, do your job and not run all over the place."

Goldsboro retook the lead 15-14 on Devante Harris' 4-yard scamper and Darius Newkirk's two-point conversion run in the third quarter. Harris, who was suspended for two games, paced the Cougars' balanced offense with 106 yards on 23 carries.

"We really dodged a bullet tonight," said Reid.