The Havelock Rams had two ultimate goals since the beginning of the season — get back to the state championship game and win it again.
Half of that goal was achieved Friday when the Havelock trounced Orange 42-7 in 3A eastern regional championship game.
Quarterback Pharoh Cooper threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns in addition to running for 98 yards and a score.
Derrell Scott added two rushing scores and caught a 41-yard strike from Cooper for another.
“I’m just so happy for our fans and these kids and my assistants who work so hard for me and mean so much to me,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “It’s a thrill to be able to go to Wake Forest next weekend and play on the artificial turf there and in a stadium like that.”
The game wasn’t totally indicative of the final score, especially the first half.
Cooper hit C.J. Lindsey for a 50-yard touchdown bomb to put the Rams up 7-0.
Then after a 52-yard kickoff return set the Panthers up in the red zone, quarterback Sean Motley pushed the football across the goal line from three yards out to tie the game 7-7.
Orange would not sniff the end zone again.
With a lackluster 21-7 halftime lead, and a few people in the home crowd having some feelings of trepidation, the Rams put all of that to bed with a brilliant second half runaway performance.
“We made some adjustments and stopped making mistakes, but a lot of it speaks to our kids’ maturity,” Bryant said. “We didn’t play our best in the first half, but the kids corrected their mistakes and listened to the coaches and we were much better in the second half.”
Orange’s pair of 1,000-yard running backs, Patrick Pettiford and Jalen Pittman, were bottled up for the most part by Havelock’s massive defensive front.
“I told my kids that I was proud of how hard they played,” Orange coach Patrick Moser said. “I mean we just lost to the state champions. I can’t see anyone beating them with their speed, it’s just too many weapons. We tried to run right and we ran into a kid going to South Carolina (Kendal Vickers), tried to run left and there’s a kid going to East Carolina (Malcom Ashley). I mean what are you going to do?”
The Rams move on to play the Concord Spiders on Dec. 1 at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.
Orange 7 0 0 0 — 7
Havelock 14 7 14 7 — 42
H — Pharoh Cooper 50 pass to C.J. Lindsey (Baker kick)
O — Sean Motley 3 run (Torres kick)
H — Cooper 13 run (Baker kick)
H — Derrell Scott 9 run (Baker kick)
H — Scott 9 run (Baker kick)
H — Cooper 41 pass to Scott (Baker kick)
H — Cooper 13 pass to Taylor Woods (Baker kick)
First Downs 10 22
Rushes-Yards 34-98 38-262
Passing Yards 118 258
Comp-Att-Int 5-12-0 12-18-0
Penalties-Yards 3-35 11-105
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1
Punts-Avg. 5-34.4 1-41.0
Orange – Passing: Sean Motley 5-11-0 118 yards, Jamal Pittman 0-1-0. Rushing: Jalen Pittman 9-27, Motley 8-22 TD, Michael Bolden 3-9, Patrick Pettiford 10-33, Jam. Pittman 4-7. Receiving: Pettiford 1-18, Jal. Pittman 1-29, Jam. Pittman 1-7, Bolden 1-28, Garrett Cloer 1-6, Brandon Frye 1-30.
Havelock – Passing: Pharoh Cooper 12-18-0 248 yards, 3 TDs, Travis Sabdo 1-1-0 10. Rushing: Derrell Scott 10-101 2 TDs, Cooper 14-98 1TD, Taylor Woods 6-81, Donte Stackhouse 5-38, Taron Wallace 1-15. Receiving: C.J. Lindsey 3-108 TD, Michael Bowman 3-42, Scott 1-41, 1 TD, Aron Rossi 2-34, London Duvall 1-23, Taylor Woods 1-13 TD, Dallas Frazier 1-10.