Plymouth headed to state title gamePublished 11:32pm Friday, November 23, 2012
PLYMOUTH — Cinderella’s time ran up on Friday night as No. 1-seeded Plymouth pushed the clock up to midnight on eighth-seeded Princeton with a 42-20 victory in the East Regional round of the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs.
The win cements the Vikings (14-0) second trip the state title game in five years as they advance to face a Murphy team that squeezed past Albemarle 27-24.
The two teams will battle next week inside N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, the same site Plymouth played in when it won the state title in 2007.
“The team is really, really happy. They did a heck-of-a job,” Plymouth coach Robert Cody said. “Right now, it just hasn’t even sunk in yet. I’m sure later on tonight I will think about it, but it’s truly for the kids and they did a great job.”
One week after rushing for 317 yards against Manteo, Plymouth running back Carl McCray was no doubt the focus of the Bulldogs (5-8) attention but he still managed to score three touchdowns.
Fellow running back Quadree Pettiford rushed for a team-high 93 yards and a score, while QB Shamontez Ferebee completed two of his three pass attempts, with one of them going 25 yards to TE DeAndre Phelps for a touchdown.
The Vikings’ benefitted from a stout defensive performance in which it forced three turnovers and scored off of all three, with a 95-yard interception return by CB Khalil Shepard highlighting the effort.
Facing a versatile Princeton offense that shifted from spread to wing formations, Plymouth always seemed to have the right answer on Friday night.
“We defended well. They did a lot of stuff and we had to move our defensive guys around a lot,” Cody said. “I thought they did a good job of recognizing the formations really, really well tonight.”
The Vikings got out to a fast start as they recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, which led to a quick score.
Plymouth would capitalize on another fumble recovery later in the quarter to take a 16-0 lead.
Princeton showed the resiliency that allowed it to advance to the East Regional round of the playoffs in the second quarter when it came up with a key fourth down stop and answered with a touchdown.
The Bulldogs were knocking on the door once again when Shepard made what might have been the play of the night when he picked off a Bulldogs’ pass at the 5-yard line and returned it 95 yards to take a 24-6 lead.
Not to be outdone, Princeton coach Derrick Minor reached into his bag of tricks right before the half and called for a hook-and-ladder, which his team was able to score on to cut the deficit to 24-14 at halftime.
Plymouth added a touchdown in the third to take a 30-14 lead into the fourth, where it scored its second and third unanswered touchdowns of the half to take a 42-14 lead before Bulldogs answered with late score.