Stallions too much for Tigers in 1-AA east final
By Chris Miller
Published in Sports on November 25, 2012 1:52 AM
Jacksonville Daily News
WARSAW -- Southwest Onslow allowed touchdowns on James Kenan's first and final drives, but in between it was all Stallions on Friday night.
Quarterback Shak Pershey scored 3 touchdowns and combined for 155 yards rushing with DaMonta Winbush to lead Southwest to a 35-13 victory over the Tigers in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-AA (large-school) eastern regional championship game at Bill Taylor Field.
The 1-2 punch of Pershey and Winbush helped the Stallions rally from an early 7-0 deficit to score 35 unanswered points between the first and third quarter. Southwest advanced to its sixth state final in program history and first since 2009.
The Stallions (13-1 overall), the No. 2 seed in the East Regional, will play defending state champion Swain County (15-0) in Raleigh next Saturday. Kick-off is 3 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Swain County, the West's top seed, beat Monroe 28-21 on Friday.
"I'm happy for my coaches who have worked so hard, and I'm happy for the kids," said Southwest coach Phil Padgett, who guided the Stallions to state titles in 2000, 2003 and 2004. "We have a great senior class, just a great senior class, and I'm happy for them to get the opportunity to play in the state championship game."
Pershey is one of those seniors. He is happy to be playing in the state final after he and his family moved to California late last season before moving back to Southwest earlier this year.
"It means a whole lot," Pershey said. "Some of the seniors, more or less we all got together in our eighth-grade year and knew we were going to be state-bound and we did it."
Meanwhile, top-seeded James Kenan (13-1) came short of making its first berth in the state final since winning it all in 2007. This was the second time in three seasons the Tigers lost to the Stallions in the playoffs.
Southwest beat James Kenan 17-6 in the second round in 2010.
"They (Stallions) beat us up front and that's where we've won games all year," James Kenan coach Ken Avent, Jr., said. "They got a good team and we wish them the best of luck next week."
Early on, the Tigers had all the momentum.
James Kenan took a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession when Dominique Barnes threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Marcelias Sutton. The Tigers then recovered their ensuing onside kick at their own 47-yard line.
"We knew we had to make some plays and take some chances," Avent said. "We took one early and got a 7-0 lead and kicked that onside kick. We knew we had to do something special to make a run."
The Tigers appeared ready to go up two touchdowns as they gained 10 yards on the first two plays. However, the possession stalled and they had to punt.
"That was a huge stop, but we've been doing it all year," Padgett said. "I was thinking if we could weather this storm...I was already thinking we are going to get the ball to start the second half and if we didn't let them get two touchdowns up, we could hold on."
The Stallions did more than hold on.
They imposed their will on the Tigers.
Winbush gave Southwest a spark when he scored on a 27-yard run in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. That was just the start for the Stallions.
Pershey, who finished with 82 yards rushing, gave Southwest the lead for good at 13-7 when he scored with 5:21 left in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run that capped a 9-play, 82-yard drive that lasted 3:47.
On the first play of the Stallions' next possession, Pershey scored on a 41-yard touchdown run and then threw a 2-point conversion pass to J'Veon Walker to make it 21-7.
"Number 12 (Pershey) made some plays," Avent said. "We had people in position and sometimes couldn't tackle him. He made plays all night."
However, Pershey credited Winbush for turning the game in the Stallions' favor.
Not only did Winbush, who ended with 73 yards rushing, score on a 27-yard touchdown run after taking a pitch to the right side, he also intercepted a pass in Southwest territory as the Tigers were trying to answer his score.
"The momentum shifted," Pershey said.
And it never went away from the Stallions.
Pershey scored on a 2-yard run for his third touchdown to cap Southwest's initial second-half drive that took five plays and covered 54 yards in just 1:42.
"We knew these guys weren't going to lay down for us," Pershey said. "We had to come out with the same intensity we came out with in the first half."
The Stallions then essentially shut the door on the Tigers when sophomore defensive back Jay Pouncey returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-7.
"The coaches told me to cover the tight end once he shot off the ball," said Pouncey, adding he wanted to make up for giving up the Tigers' long touchdown pass.
Southwest's defense certainly did that.
The Stallions held the Tigers to just 38 yards rushing in the first half. James Kenan, which got a late touchdown from Gregory Washington, finished 3.1 yards-per-rush average.
"The coaches told us defensive backs to make sure we play outside containment," Pouncey said. "The linebackers made sure they came up."
James Kenan's top two backs -- Sutton and Ja'Quan Williams -- combined for just 76 yards rushing. Sutton entered the game with 1,753 yards and Williams came in with 1,027 yards.
"You just have to get used to the speed and once you do, you can adjust," Padgett said of the defense. "I thought we could make them do something they didn't want to do..., and they started throwing a couple of passes they're not real comfortable with."
One thing the Stallions are comfortable with is winning, and now they find themselves in the state championship game.
"There's a lot going through my head right now," Winbush said. "I've never been, but I'm excited."
Other Local Sports
- Preps digest: Middle school results
- Rosewood grapplers split with Tarboro, North Pitt
- Massengill records double-double for Bulldogs
- Fike slips past Southern Wayne boys
- Davis emerges Chargers' top scorer in road win
- WCDS' Pittman qualifies for NCISAA state swim meet
- Bethel Christian upends Faith Christian girls in NCCSA region affair
- Golden Falcon girls fall behind early, never recover
- Barfield, Kornegay pace Eagles against Faith-RM
- Tuesday's prep basketball boxes