RALEIGH – One foot – that was the difference between dynasty and disappointment Saturday for the Havelock Rams in a 21-13 victory over Concord in the state 3A championship game Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
Havelock’s Jordan Cuthbertson, Trey Owens and Akeno Godette stopped Concord quarterback Keenan Black just short of the goal line on the game’s final play, preserving a third consecutive state 3A championship for the Rams.
The play came after Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant gambled on fourth-and-1 from his own 39-yard line with three minutes left. Quarterback Travis Sabdo’s sneak failed, and Concord drove to the Havelock 5-yard line with 15 seconds left.
Without any time-outs, Concord called a pass play, but Black couldn’t find an open receiver and tried to scramble into the end zone but came up short. The Spiders couldn’t get another play off before the clock ran out.
“It was a great team win over a great football team in Concord,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “Hindsight is always 20/20 but if I had it to do over again, I’d punt the thing. Luckily we have a great defense behind us and they kept Concord out of the end zone. We did everything we needed to do to win and it was a total team effort.”
After falling behind 10-0 to start the game, the Rams reeled off 21 straight points on three touchdown runs from senior star Derrell Scott.
Scott’s 51-yard score came about a minute after Rocky Reid’s 55-yard touchdown for Concord in what proved to be a running back duel throughout the game. Reid finished with 218 yards rushing on 41 carries.
Scott’s 20-yard touchdown with 59 seconds left in the first half lifted the Rams to a 14-10 halftime lead. And after Concord failed on a fourth-down pass into the end zone, Scott matched a school record with a 96-yard touchdown run, putting the Rams ahead 21-10 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
Scott was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, rushing for 209 yards, ending his prep career with more than 6,000 career rushing yards and a third state championship.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” he said. “I just have to give all the glory to God and my teammates and coaches for putting me in the position to use my ability.”
Sabdo earned Havelock’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player award by throwing for 126 yards without an interception.
Senior linebacker Andrew Ramirez was the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for Havelock with 19 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery that stopped another Concord touchdown bid. Junior linebacker Anthony Fisher posted 18 tackles.
“I’m just so blessed to be a part of three state title teams and to have the best coaches and teammates,” Ramirez said. “It’s great to play with them.”
The Rams defeated the Spiders for the second-consecutive championship game, although it was much more dramatic than last year’s 55-21 decision.
“We played a great team today in Havelock today, but I think we showed that our team is great as well,” Concord coach Glen Padgett said. “It shows our character – a lot of people would have folded down 21-10, but they kept fighting – we just ran out of time.”
Havelock becomes the 12th team in North Carolina to win three consecutive state titles since championship games were started in 1972.
“When people talk about all of those other teams that have won three straight – they are going to have to add another team – the Havelock Rams,” Bryant said. “All of the credit goes to those kids in that locker room.”
With the title, Havelock increases its win streak to 30 games and postseason win streak to 15.
Concord 3 7 0 3 - 13
Havelock 0 14 7 0 – 21
C – Alex Maganda 27 Field Goal
C – Rocky Reid 55 run (Maganda kick)
H – Derrell Scott 51 run (Dylan Baker kick)
H – Scott 20 run (Baker kick)
H – Scott 96 run (Baker)
C – Maganda 42 Field Goal
Total Offense 304 365
First Downs 17 13
Rushes-Yards 55-214 27-239
Passing Yards 90 126
Comp-Att-Int 6-15-0 14-24-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-40 10-81
Punts-Avg. 3-42.0 3-28.7
Passing: Concord – Keenan Black 6-14 for 90 yards, Rocky Reid 0-1. Havelock – Travis Sabdo 14-24 for 126 yards.
Rushing: Concord – Reid 41-218 (TD), Haywood Forte 3-5, Black 9-(-4). Havelock – Derrell Scott 18-209 (3 TD), Matt Boykin 3-18, Taylor Woods 2-8, Sabdo 3-6.
Receiving: Concord – Myles Neils 2-47, Logan Sedergren 2-24, Forte 1-14, Hamsah Nasirildeen 1-5. Havelock – Boykin 3-34, Micheal Bowman 3-33, Kyran Bowman 3-25, Woods 3-25.