Friday Night Football, Oct. 30, 2009


SANFORD — A gutsy call by Burton Cates and a heroic play by Isaiah Williams have kept the Lee County football team’s playoff hopes alive.

Williams blocked Panther Creek’s Walker Cruikshank’s 22-yard field goal attempt as time expired to secure a 21-20 victory for the Yellow Jackets on Friday night at Paul Gay Stadium, moving them just one win away from qualifying for the 4-A State Playoffs.

The Yellow Jackets improve to 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the Tri-9 Conference, doubling their conference win total from 2008. With a win next week at Fuquay-Varina, the Yellow Jackets will qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Trailing 20-13 with 2:20 remaining in the fourth period, the Yellow Jackets took over on their own 26-yard line. Junior quarterback Carson Wilson led the Jackets on a 74-yard drive that resulted in a 35-yard pass to former quarterback Dakota Hart for the touchdown with 1:18 to go in the game.

Hart, who started the majority of the games this season at quarterback for the Yellow Jackets, played wide receiver in his final home game of his career, filling in for Chris Thompson, who is out for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

After a series of timeouts by both teams following the score, Cates opted for the Yellow Jackets to attempt a 2-point conversion. On the risky call, Wilson found Daniel Dillon on the 1-yard line. Dillon, who was met by a group of Catamount defenders, stretched his arm over the goal line to give the Yellow Jackets the 21-20 lead.

The Catamounts (4-5, 2-5) returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to their own 48. They got all the way to the Yellow Jacket goal line before Williams made the heroic block.



SANFORD — Ace Chalmers took the handoff and was gone.

Sixty-seven yards later, he was in the end zone, the crowd was cheering and the Southern Lee Cavaliers were back in the ballgame, down by just a touchdown.

One problem.


Later on the same drive, after a successful fake punt, A.J. Jackson rolled to his right, eluded pressure, stepped into the throw and delivered a strike to Robert Richard in the corner of the end zone. Again the crowd roared, again the Cavaliers appeared to be back in the Ballgame.

Again the flag brought the play back.

Whether the penalties were controversial or not, the two plays fairly summarized the season for Southern Lee — even when it looked like the Cavaliers were taking steps forward, something held them back.

And so Southern Lee closed its first season under coach Eric Puryear with a 42-6 loss to 2008 4-A state runner-up Douglas Byrd, finishing the year 0-11.

Certainly, there were bright moments for the Cavaliers (0-6 in Cape Fear Valley Conference) against the Eagles (6-4, 3-2). Southern Lee finished with 115 yards of rushing and embarked on a few extended offensive series, but many of the same problems that plagued the team all season were evident in the finale.

Rasheen Bronson finished with a game-high 159 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Eagles, scoring once on an 89-yard run. The Eagles rushed for 380 yards and scored two touchdowns on drives that covered 144 yards — but just three plays and 54 seconds.

Junior Williams added 87 yards rushing and Lorenzo Pooler had 75 yards and a touchdown. Garry Lewis chipped in 49 yards rushing and a score.

Southern Lee moved the ball inside the Byrd 20-yard line four times, but were turned away three times, once on 4th-and-1. But the Cavaliers did manage a score when Jackson found Richard for a 5-yard touchdown toss with just over 4 minutes remaining.

Alas, the score came only after Southern Lee trailed 42-0.

Chalmers finished with a team-high 74 yards rushing on 10 carries while Ashton Gaines added 43 yards rushing. Gaines found a seam for a 52-yard run on 3rd-and-inches to set the Cavaliers up at the 5-yard line for their touchdown.

Jackson was 4 of 5 through the air for 44 yards and the touchdown.


SPRING LAKE — C.C. Williams was stopped on a 2-point conversion try as Western harnett hung on for a 34-32 victory over Overhills on Friday night.

Caleb Chalmers rushed for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another for the Eagles in place of leading rusher Shaun McLean, who was lost for the season after being the victim of a physical altercation earlier in the week.

Western Harnett (4-6, 3-2) becomes eligible for the postseason with the victory. The Eagles had to work for it, though. After taking a 34-12 lead into the fourth quarter, the Eagles were forced to hang on after 20 unanswered points by the Jaguars , who are eliminated from postseason play.


BEAR CREEK — East Montgomery scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and beat Chatham Central 39-14 in football on Friday night.

The Bears (1-10) trailed just 13-7 entering the fourth quarter.

East Montgomery improves to 5-3-1 overall.

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Filed under Alex Podlogar, Burton Cates, Cape Fear Valley Conference, Chatham Central, Designated Hitter, Douglas Byrd, Eric Puryear, Lee County High School, N.C. playoff brackets, N.C. State Championships, Overhills Jaguars, Prep sports, Southern Lee High School, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald, Tri-9 Conference, Western Harnett

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