Plymouth loses heartbreaker at state

Published 7:19 pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

Plymouth High School running back Demarkice Price scores a touchdown during the Vikings 35-34 loss to Murphy in the NCHSAA 1-A state title game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. (AP Photo)

Plymouth High School running back Demarkice Price scores a touchdown during the Vikings 35-34 loss to Murphy in the NCHSAA 1-A state title game at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. (AP Photo)

Winston-Salem — There was no controversial fumble this time around, just a hold-your-breath two-point conversion with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Plymouth’s NCHSAA 1-A state title game against Murphy.
The Vikings, in search of their second straight state championship, wiped out a nine-point halftime deficit and trailed the Bulldogs by one after quarterback Malik Webb connected on a miraculous 21-yard sleet-covered touchdown pass to Demarkice Price in the final stages of the game.
Plymouth, who has gone for two all year, found itself standing one two-point conversion away from winning its third state title in school history. However, a direct snap play to fullback Demetrius Davis was alertly sniffed out by the Bulldogs, allowing Murphy to cling on to a 35-34 victory inside Wake Forest’s BB&T Field on Saturday.
“We were going to go with a bootleg, but then Murphy called a timeout and I changed the play and decided to go with a play we scored on earlier,” Cody said of the two-point conversion. “It was a direct snap to Davis, but their tackle shot the gap and made the tackle.”
Cody couldn’t help but second-guess himself after the game, but the truth is the Vikings would not have been in a position to take the lead with 30 seconds remaining if he and his staff didn’t make a lot of right decisions throughout the contest.
There were easily six to seven game-on-the-line calls that needed to be made on Saturday, and Plymouth got a lot more right then wrong.
Last year it was the Vikings that were on the winning side of a thriller as they completed an 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to top Murphy 20-15.
This year, the Bulldogs (13-2) got their revenge, or rather “redemption,” according to Murphy head coach David Gentry, who with the win snapped the Vikings 27-game winning streak and handed Plymouth (14-1) its first loss of the year.
“It was a great football game,” Gentry said. “Everybody talked about revenge, but it wasn’t revenge at all, it was redemption and we got ours today.
“Plymouth played a heck of a ball game and our kids did too. It was just sad that one team had to lose.”
Murphy was led by game MVP, running back Kenton Braswell, who rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Braswell made big run after big run and his 8-yard TD with 4:56 left in the game proved to be the game-winner.
Of course the hidden MVP was Bulldogs kicker Foster Stroup, who went 5-5 on extra points despite the poor conditions and 37-degree temperature.
Davis was named the Plymouth offensive MVP as he rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown and scored a crucial two-point conversion earlier in the fourth quarter to tie the contest at 28.
Inside linebacker Devonte Spruill was tabbed the Vikings defensive MVP after racking up a game-high 16 tackles.
The loss capped memorable season for the Coastal 10 Conference champion Vikings, who outscored teams 652-130 on the year.
“It’s been a fantastic season,” Cody said. “We had a 27-game winning streak. The kids did really good and practiced really hard and we almost got our second straight state championship.”
The Vikings took a 6-0 lead on their first possession, as a Price 19-yard TD run capped off a six-play, 65-yard drive. However, Plymouth would fail to convert its two-point attempt.
Price ended the day rushing for 58 yards and two touchdowns, while catching two passes for 48 yards and score.
The Bulldogs answered on the ensuing possession as Braswell scored his first touchdown of the day from 4 yards out to go ahead 7-6.
Murphy, who fought off 12 penalties for 101 yards, had churned out 317 rushing yards against a staunch Plymouth defense.
Deion Johnson was Murphy’s second leading rusher with 110 yards and a score on 12 carries.
The Bulldogs went ahead 14-6 on a TD run by Gaige Cox midway through the second, but the Vikings were quick to answer with a 10-play 62-yard scoring drive.
Webb first connected with Price on a huge 27-yard pass and then was able to pick up a yard on a 4th-and-1  situation to set up Price’s second score of the game, which after a failed two-point conversion left Plymouth trailing 14-12 with 3:14 left in the half.
Just enough time for Murphy to score.
The Bulldogs raced down the field until it faced 4th-and-eight at the Plymouth 14. After first considering a field goal attempt, the Bulldogs handed off to Johnson, who raced to his left to pick up a crucial score and take a 21-12 halftime lead.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the game was just heating up.
Plymouth reached the end zone on its first drive of the second half. Davis took a 4th-and-1 handoff at the goal line and skied over the linemen to enter the end zone.
This time Plymouth would make it’s two-pointer, as Webb ran to his right and lowered his shoulder to cut the deficit to 21-20.
However, it just seemed like Murphy always had an answer.
The Bulldogs reached the end zone on their next possession as quarterback Dalton Kent screamed a 17-yard scoring strike to Bradley Puccio to go up 28-20 with 1:31 left in the third.
Plymouth kept clawing back and finally pulled even at the start of the fourth when it completed a 42-yard scoring drive that ended with a Webb 1-yard run.
Trailing by two, Cody went to his bag of tricks on the conversion and called for a wildcat play to Davis, which caught the Bulldogs off guard and allowed Plymouth to tie the contest at 28.
As was the case all game, Murphy responded. This time with Braswell’s second TD of the game to take a 35-28 lead with 4:56 remaining in the game.
The Vikings received the ball at their own 21-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, and with their second straight state title on the line, proceeded to march.
The drive came was in jeopardy when Plymouth hit 4th-and-eight at the Murphy 45, but an incredible 22-yard scramble by Webb kept its hopes alive.
Shortly after, Webb wafted a wobbly 21-yarder over the middle to Price, who shook off a Bulldog defender to pull in the pass and put Plymouth within two points of a victory. However, they would not get any closer as Davis was stopped at the line of scrimmage on the following two-point conversion.

PHS          MHS
First downs                19           21
Rushes-yards             48-232      49-317
Comp-att-int              3-6        4-8
Passing yards            60            47
Fumbles-lost              1-1           1-0
Penalties-yards          6-37           12-101
Punts                      1-21           2-22

Plymouth    6    6    8    14        —    34
Murphy    7    14    7    7    —    35
Scoring summary
P —  Demarkice Price19 run (two points failed), 10:08, 1st.
M — Kenton Braswell 4 run (kick), 6:00, 1st.
M — Gaige Cox 3 run (kick) 7:48, 2nd.
P —  Price 4 run (two points failed), 3:14, 2nd.
M — Deion Johnson 14 run (kick), :24, 2nd.
P — Demetrius Davis 1 run (Webb two points), 6:26, 3rd.
M — Bradley Puccio 17 pass from Dalton Kent(kick), 1:31, 3rd.
P — Webb 1 run (Davis two points), 10:34, 4th
M — Braswell 8 run (kick), 4:56, 4th.
P — Price 21 pass from Webb (two points failed), :36, 4th.