Cougars denied chance at third straight Carolina 1-A football title
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 29, 2011 11:05 PM
LITTLEFIELD -- All good things must come to an end.
Goldsboro hunted but just couldn't catch its prey and surrendered the big prize -- the Carolina 1-A Conference championship -- to Ayden-Grifton on a breezy, chilly Friday evening.
The Chargers triumphed 42-18 and claimed their first league title since 2008 and 10th overall in program history while competing in three different classifications since 1973.
"Overall, I told the boys that I'm proud they in hung there," said fifth-year Goldsboro High head coach Eric Reid. "They were hurt (with the loss) and I was hurt for them. This was a very disappointing loss. If we don't learn anything from this and the loss to Red Springs, then we're going to be in trouble in the playoffs.
"We've got to bounce back."
Ayden-Grifton's resounding victory snapped Goldsboro's 18-game unbeaten streak against conference opposition, which began after a 34-point road loss to perennial 2-A powerhouse Tarboro on Oct. 10, 2008.
Big plays and missed opportunities to move the chains troubled the Cougars all night. The Chargers broke two long touchdown runs of 37-plus yards and got a 52-yard touchdown punt return from senior Kariym Gent midway through the second quarter.
Gent received the kick, headed down the A-G sideline and broke at least five tackles on his way to the end zone. The 5-foot-11, 186-pounder led all rushers with 174 yards on 19 carries.
"The punt they ran back, we had people over there and I don't know if they just got caught up in a crowd or what," said Reid. "Then he popped out of that and I was like 'oh man'. My hat's off to them because they capitalized on the big plays."
Goldsboro quarterback Julius Murphy completed 13 of 30 passes for 122 yards, including touchdown strikes to Rodney Cook Jr. and Karon Alston. But Murphy's receivers also dropped several passes on second- and third-down plays that could have kept pressure on the Chargers' defense.
The Cougars converted just 1 of 8 third-down tries.
"I felt good about the passing game after watching the Princeton film," said Reid. "I thought they had a hard time defending it. Sometimes we had some bad throws and sometimes we had some good throws ... then we had some dropped passes."
Ayden-Grifton (9-1 overall, 5-0 CC) led 28-12 at halftime and extended its advantage to 35-12 early in the third quarter. Goldsboro (6-4, 4-1) answered with two second-half scores, but Murphy threw two interceptions on the visitors' final three possessions of the game.
Devante Harris, who ranks among the area's top 10 rushers, paced the Cougars' ground game with 101 yards on 14 carries. Cook, the area's top receiver, hauled in six passes for 43 yards. Alston had five catches for 72 yards.
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