Jul 24, 2014
The 66th annual N.C. Coaches Association East-West all-star football game ended without a winner Wednesday night in Greensboro.
Down by three points, the West all-stars led a 63-yard drive in the final 48 seconds of the game to put themselves on the East 18 yard-line. With four seconds on the clock, West kicker Luke Hayek (Shelby) made a 35-yard field goal as time expired to end the game in a 10-10 tie.
It was just the second tie in the history of the East-West game, and the first since 1962.
"I think both teams worked hard all week and [the West] wanted to get out of here with at least a tie," said East head coach Brian Foster, who coaches at Southern Nash. "It was a tough decision for where they were on the field."
Demetri Sheridan of Lumberton High was named the Most Valuable Player of the defense after making 8.5 tackles. Diquon Cox of of Richmond Senior was the MVP of the offense. He rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the East's run-heavy offense that threw the ball just once.
Starting East quarterback Deon Lavender of Southern Nash was 1-1 with 25 yards. His lone completion came in the second quarter on a deep pass to tight end Troy Cain (South View).
Instead of attacking through the air, the East got offensive production from a number of running backs, including James Kenan's Marcelias Sutton, an N.C. State recruit. He rushed for 40 yards on 13 carries. Laron Gilchrist (Western Harnett) had 14 yards on four carries and Radja Bobbit (Tarboro) had eight yards on four carries.
"We just didn't do what we were supposed to do, offensively," said Foster. "We should have finished a couple of drives earlier in the game. We had a couple procedure calls too, and for what we do, that hurts."
The stubborn East defense held the West scoreless until just four minutes left in the game. While Sheridan led the team in tackles, Panther Creek's Matt Powell finished with five tackles and Dijon Kenan (Wallace-Rose Hill) had 4.5.
For Powell, who plays in the 4-A Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, the West offense was nothing unfamiliar.
"Where I play, teams run a lot of spread," said Powell. "I’m really used to it, so it was normal.
"[The defense] was a lot different. In high school you’ve got holes here and there. I came from a good defense, but playing with everyone who’s playing the best level of football you can play in high school, it’s a great experience."
Both teams were held scoreless until the second quarter after trading punts throughout the first. The drought was broken by the East with seven minutes left before halftime when two long runs by Cox broke the team into West territory, Lavender completed his pass to Cain and Clayton kicker Nick Christiansen capped the drive with a 32-yard field goal.
West Forsyth's Phil Taylor fumbled the ensuing West kickoff return and Kenan recovered. Taking over at the West 4 yard-line, Cox punched the ball in on the next play to give the East a 10-0 lead at halftime.
After a halftime fireworks show in front of Jamieson Stadium's 7,111 fans, the teams traded punts for another 20 minutes of game time before the West started its final scoring surge.
Early in the fourth quarter from their own 47, the West all-stars handed the ball to Kenneth Purvis (Central Cabarrus), who rushed 38 yards to the East 15. From there, he continued to get the ball until finding the endzone from two yards out to put his team on the scoreboard.
The East then attempted to run the clock down after Sutton recovered the West's onside kick attempt, but later turned it over on downs to set up the West's last run.
Logan Bradley (Forestview) found Tyler Bray (South Point) for a 20-yard completion and Hunter Wilke (Pisgah) for another 30 to get the team into field-goal range for the game-tying score.
Malik Williams (Hunt) played a crucial role in the East's tough defense through the first three quarters, playing defensive back and shutting down several long pass attempts from Bradley, who finished 7-14 with 96 yards. He recorded one interception on the final play of the first half.
Foster also pointed to the team's quickly-built bond and understanding of the offensive and defensive system as a key part of staying competitive in the game.
"The biggest thing we tried to do was get a relationship with the kids," he said. "We called them before we got here to tell them what we expected of them and what we were going to be doing. Credit to them, they’re just great football players and they're knowledgeable of the game.
"I told them before the game, even if we didn't play the game I would have been blessed. They were all quality individuals."
- East assistant coaches included Richard Bailey (Scotland County), Robert Britt (Rosewood), Kim Cain (West Bladen), Steve Mallard (Hobbton) and Wes Mattera (Holmes).
- Christian Pleasant (J.H. Rose) started along the East's defensive line and recorded the team's only sack of the game. He also had two tackles.
- Tyler Williams (Fuquay-Varina), listed as ATH on the East roster, started at safety and punt returner. He recorded one tackle.
- Jamaal Darden (Hoke County) started at outside linebacker for the East and finished with 3.5 tackles. Elijah Bulger (Douglas Byrd), who played mostly quarterback in high school, saw time at defensive back and had three tackles.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT
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