Goldsboro drops East Montgomery
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 5, 2011 11:54 PM
The best thing about playoff heroes is they are never measured in size, experience or even in physical condition.
It's their ability to make plays that truly matters.
On Friday night, Goldsboro received a pair of heroic efforts from an ailing tailback and a safety in his first career playoff game.
Devante Harris rushed for 173 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns, and Toric Best had a late interception in the Cougars' 20-13 win over East Montgomery in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small school) state football playoffs.
Goldsboro visits No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Wallace-Rose Hill in the second round next Friday night.
The Eagles pieced together the game's first real drive and took a 6-0 lead on Avery Jackson's 14-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Baldwin late in the second quarter.
"We had a lot of different things we caught them in," East Montgomery head coach Anthony Timmons said. "We just didn't capitalize."
Goldsboro (7-4 overall) appeared to have squandered good field position after a sack of quarterback Julius Murphy left the Cougars facing a third-and-long. Harris, who missed practice most of the week with an achy back, raced 49 yards to the end zone. Alan Odom's extra point gave Goldsboro a 7-6 lead with 16 seconds left in the first half.
"That was a momentum builder," Cougars' head coach Eric Reid said. "We're young and being down 6-0 at halftime a young ballclub could have tucked their tail between their legs and called it a night. We were able to get them back focused and get them back on track.
"That's what this time of year is all about is a little bit of luck and a little bit of execution."
Harris scored from 60 yards out on the first play of the second half to increase Goldsboro's lead to 14-6.
"I was just running through my holes real hard and following my blocks," Harris said. "The more carries I got the more I got into the game. My back is all right, but I didn't expect to have this kind of night. I'm glad I did."
East Montgomery pulled to within 14-13 on Cord Steele's 21-yard touchdown run off a hook-and-lateral.
The Cougars answered with Murphy's 5-yard touchdown pass to Harris that stretched the margin to 20-13.
The Eagles failed to convert a key fourth down in Goldsboro territory early in the fourth quarter. The Cougars gave the ball back on a fumble on the next play. East Montgomery couldn't capitalize on first-and-goal from Goldsboro's 6-yard line after a bad snap stalled the drive near the 25-yard line. Santrel Durham led the Eagles with 70 yards on 13 carries.
"We just didn't execute well," Timmons said. "We had a chance to make plays and we didn't capitalize on it. That's pretty much what it comes down to in the playoffs."
East Montgomery got one last possession with a little more than two minutes to play, but Best intercepted Steele's halfback pass on the first play of the drive to seal the victory. Best, who spent the majority of the season on the JV squad, was forced into duty with starting safety Karon Alston out due to illness.
"I saw the ball in the air and I was thinking, 'I've been waiting for this,'" Best said. "I was just hoping I caught it. As soon as I saw it in my hands I was like, 'let's go!' This is my first playoff game, and this feels great because I had to step into a big role."
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