2017 NCHSAA Football 4A State Championship Review
Wake Forest and Harding University (Charlotte) have won the 2017 NCHSAA Football 4A State Championship (4AA & 4A).
4AA State Championship
Wake Forest 21, Mallard Creek 0
Wake Forest is back-to-back 4AA state champions. For the second time in two years, the Cougar defense posts a shutout in the title game to claim the crown. This season, the previously undefeated Mallard Creek Mavericks fell victim to the stifling Wake Forest defense. “For me, a state championship is a state championship,” Wake Forest head coach Reggie Lucas told reporters after the game. “It’s the ultimate win for any high school football team. Going against a team like Mallard Creek, with an established program like over there, obviously, we’re proud that.”
For three and a half quarters, the game was a scoreless bloodbath. Then the Mavericks made the mistake of the game. While attempting a punt from midfield, MC had a snap over the punters head. The Mavs recovered the ball, but the Cougars took over on downs. WF set up shop on the Mavericks 17-yard line and five plays later were in the end zone. John Jiles and QB Chris James connected on a 20-yard pass for the score (Parris PAT).
On the ensuing possession, a holding penalty and a false start stymied the drive and forced another Mavs punt. Three plays later, Cougar RB Marquis Dunn took a misdirection 54-yards to the house. With three minutes left in the game, WF now held a 14-0 lead (Parris PAT).
In late desperation mode, the Mavericks dream of a state title ended with an interception by UNC-commit, safety Javon Terry. From one future Heel to another, Devon Lawrence put the final bow on the game. The senior RB took in a 7-yard scamper for a touchdown (Parris PAT) to push the final tally to 21-0.
Stats and Notes
Lawrence was the MVP of the game. In total, he amassed 135 yards on 25 carries and the touchdown. Marquis Dunn finished with 69 yards on six carries. John Jiles (5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a 15-yard sack, and the game-winning TD reception) was all over the field Saturday.
Reggie Lucas’ team has now won 31-straight games. The 21-0 final score is the lowest of any state title game since classifications were split into the AA/A format in 2002.
4A State Championship
Harding University 30, Scotland County 22
Two seasons ago, the Harding Univesity High School football program went 1-10, now they are state champs. “I love these kids,” Coach Sam Greiner said after the victory over Scotland County. “It’s a family and when you build yourself together like that, there’s more than Xs and Os. Something special happens when a family happens. I saw something deep in these kids and I said, ‘We’ll be something special if God can keep us healthy.’ He kept us just healthy enough. It was a beautiful thing.” The state championship is Harding’s first since 1953 and third overall.
It worth mentioning Scotland was without their leading rusher, the national player of the year and Georgia commit, Zamir White. White injured his knee in the 3rd round of the playoffs. After defeating undefeated Hoggard 47-46 last week without White, the Scots knew they still had a good shot at the title. In White’s absence, QB Warren Bell picked up the slack.
Through much of the first half, Bell exchanged blows with the HU offensive tandem of QB Braheam Murphy and RB Quavaris Crouch. First to score was Bell, who led the Scots on a scoring drive early in the first quarter. With the Scots up 7, it was Crouch’s turn. At the start of the second quarter, the stud junior punched in a ten-yard run. On the ensuing drive, Bell went back to work. After seven plays and 85 yards, Bell was back in the end zone with a four-yard run. SC back on top 14-7.
Harding answered right back on their next possession. Halfway through the second quarter, Crouch and the Rams were back in the end zone. Game tied 14-14. In their final drive of the half, the Scots stalled out and punted. To end the half, Murphy and Crouch led the Rams downfield and Alejandro Guevara rewarded their efforts with a 39-yard field goal and three points. HU up 17-14 at the half.
It was the Braheam Murphy show in the second half, more specifically the fourth quarter. To begin the fourth, Murphy found Reggie Burns with a 20-yard strike for a touchdown to extend the lead to 24-14.
With the championship in their hands, Trayvon Corbett and the Rams defensive unit took the Scots best shot but never broke. In consecutive possessions, SC drove deep into Harding territory but came up short in both instances. A magnificent Marquise Nelson interception of Warren Bell and a turnover on downs all but ended the Scots title hopes.
After the turnover on downs, Braheam Murphy put the ultimate final nail in the SC coffin. Murphy found a hole a ran 95-yards to the promised land with two minutes left in the game. HU 30-14.
As time ran down, Bell led the Scots on a final scoring drive capped off by a touchdown pass to Bruce Wall. However, HU recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
Stats and Notes
Quavaris Crouch was named MVP of the game. He finished with two touchdowns and 141 yards on 23 carries. Braheam Murphy had an MVP-type performance as well. Murphy completed 3 of 6 attempts for 53 passing yard and a touchdown to go with 135 rushing yards on ten attempts and a score. Murphy also caught a pass for 56-yards.
Warren Bell finished the game 7 of 10 passing for 153 passing yards and 111 rushing yards. Bell had three total touchdowns.