10/28/12 — Carolina 1-A archrivals stage instant 3-OT classic

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Carolina 1-A archrivals stage instant 3-OT classic

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 28, 2012 1:50 AM

PRINCETON -- Spencer Garrison waited for the referees to sort through the bodies stacked on top of him and raise their hands in the air.

A few seconds passed.

Finally, the official near the Rosewood sideline signaled 'good' on the two-point conversion and the Eagles erupted in celebration after their spine-tingling, 43-41 triple-overtime victory over Carolina 1-A Conference archrival Princeton on Friday evening.

Rosewood claimed its third consecutive win in the series.

"We just played with all the intensity we could," said Garrison.

The 41st installment of the league's oldest rivalry favored the Eagles through three quarters. They limited the Bulldogs to five yards of total offense on 21 plays and just one third-down conversion.

Garrison, who led all rushers with 211 yards, rambled for short touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards to give Rosewood a two-touchdown advantage early in the fourth quarter.

"Our offense played well, they really did," Garrison. "I can thank Coach (Robert) Britt for calling the right plays at the right time. The fullback dive was working."

Princeton (2-8 overall, 1-4 CC) revived its collective heartbeat after Garrison's second touchdown had sent some rain-soaked and wind-chilled Bulldog fans to the warmth of their cars in the parking lot.

Quarterback Michael Wooten hit Johnny Frasier with a 26-yard pass and three plays later, Frasier rambled 32 yards to the end zone to make it 14-7.

The teams combined for three touchdowns during the next 41/2 minutes. Jamari McGown provided Rosewood with another two-TD lead on a 19-yard run.

The Bulldogs responded with Jamaal Allen's 30-yard scoring strike from Wooten, and his 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. Dillon Pace supplied the two-point conversion for a 21-21 deadlock with 2:07 to go in regulation.

"All it took was one big play with Jamaal scoring on that slant and it ignited a fire, showed the potential that we have all year long in one quarter," Princeton head coach Derrick Minor said. "Jamaal, every game has stepped up and said 'I want the ball coach.'

"We have tried every way we can to get the ball into his hands, and special teams has really been his big thing."

Tied at 21-all, Rosewood took the game's final possession and drove inside Princeton's red zone with 13 seconds to go. But the clock ran out on the Eagles, who had used all of their timeouts earlier in the half.

The teams easily scored on their respective possession in overtime, but each failed on the conversion. Garrison converted a fourth-down play and added the two-point run in the second OT, only to see Frasier answer for the Bulldogs with a 4-yard dive and two-point conversion of his own.

Frasier broke free on Princeton's first play of the third extra session, but couldn't get the conversion. Garrison responded three plays later with a short touchdown burst and then followed his blockers -- Josh Clark and Jacob Guthrie -- to the goal line.

Garrison waited as tired and wet bodies crawled off of him. Once the official gave his signal, he jumped to his feet and was mobbed by his teammates.

"Honestly, I was praying that I was there because I did not want to go another round," Garrison said.

Britt assumed his team had to go for two in the third overtime, which is the collegiate rule. Officials said the National High School Federation does not follow that format.

"I thought that was the rule," a surprised Britt said. "Our boys didn't panic too much, saw the momentum was switching, were able to get into overtime and make some big plays. That last play being the biggest."