The Havelock Rams did it again.
Havelock repeated as state 3A champions, using 35 second-half points to erase a halftime deficit in defeating Concord 55-21 Saturday at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem.
“These guys, these seniors have done it day-in and day-out for three years,” Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant said. “They took our lumps early in their careers, but they all have grown up together, and this is the result.”
In the first half, the Rams seemed to be going through the motions by leaving Concord gunslinger B.J. Beecher passing lanes to hurt them.
The Rams trailed 21-20 at halftime, only the second game of the season, in addition to the New Bern game, in which Havelock trailed at any point.
“We just played through it all,” Bryant said. “It was a lot like that game (New Bern), and that second quarter went by really fast, but we were able to make adjustments in the second half and played much better.”
Those adjustments included bringing in six defensive backs to help contain Beecher and the Concord passing game along with a move toward a more outside running game with Derrell Scott.
As the second half got rolling – so did the Rams.
Quarterback Pharoh Cooper, named the game’s Most Valuable Player, and Scott, named Havelock’s Most Valuable Player on offense, began running the ball effectively in the second half.
“They were jumping our alleys and holes in the first half, but I knew if we just kept fighting that those holes would eventually open up,” Scott said.
On the Spiders’ first possession of the second half, Havelock defensive back A.J. Coplon scooped up a fumble and promptly returned it 61 yards to put Havelock up 28-21 after a 2-point conversion run by Cooper.
Coplon then recovered another fumble on Concord’s next possession, setting up Scott’s 2-yard touchdown run with 5:14 left in the third quarter, lifting the Rams to a 35-21 lead. Scott had 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Rams.
Meanwhile, Cooper ran for 81 yards on nine carries and a touchdown, and also threw for 64 yards and two scores.
However, it was on defense where Cooper may have had his biggest play. With Concord leading 13-7 and driving toward the end zone after recovering a Havelock fumble, Cooper jumped in front of a Beecher pass attempt and returned the interception 87 yards for a touchdown, giving the Rams a 14-13 lead with 4:13 left in the first half.
“Pharoh made a great break on the ball and used his 4.9 speed – I’m just kidding – and used his speed to get down the field and get in the end zone,” Bryant said. “That was a big momentum shift for us.”
Beecher, Concord’s Shrine Bowl quarterback who injured his thumb the week before in the western regional championship, was 22 of 36 for 267 yards for the game, with 189 of those yards and all three of his touchdowns coming in the first half. In the decisive second half, he was just 9 of 17 for 78 yards. He was sacked three times in the contest.
Concord managed just 112 total yards in the second half.
Havelock totaled 360 yards for the contest, getting a final touchdown on backup quarterback Travis Sabdo’s 18-yard pass to Keion Joyner with 19 seconds left in the game for the final margin.
The Rams finish the season at 15-1, with the lone loss coming 34-33 on Aug. 24 to New Bern, which won the 4A state title 39-38 over Porter Ridge on Friday night.
The state championship is Havelock’s third, with one being the eastern state championship in 1971 over Northeastern and last year’s 38-6 victory over West Rowan.
“Back-to-back feels great,” Bryant said. “It’s great to be able to share this with my assistants and with these kids.
“It speaks to the kids and their belief in and love for each other. Not only do they show up to play football on Friday nights, they hang out with each other away from football and love each other.”
Concord 0 21 0 0 – 21
Havelock 7 13 15 20 – 55
H – Pharoh Cooper 2 run (Dylan Baker kick)
C – Zosh Heilig 30 pass from B.J. Beecher (Alex Maganda kick)
C – Rocky Reid 37 pass from Beecher (kick failed)
H – Cooper 87 Interception Return (Baker kick)
C – Jerry Burk 21 pass from Beecher (Beecher pass to Sedergren for two-point conversion)
H – Harry Caldwell 11 pass from Cooper (kick failed)
H – A.J. Coplon 61 fumble recovery return (Cooper 2-point conversion)
H – Derrell Scott 2 run (Baker kick)
H – Scott 13 run (Baker kick)
H – C.J. Lindsey 12 pass from Cooper (Baker kick)
H – Keion Joyner 18 pass from Travis Sabdo (2-pt. conversion failed)
First Downs 21 21
Rushes-Yards 27-73 34-263
Passing Yards 267 100
Comp-Att-Int 22-36-1 9-19-0
Penalties-Yards 9-65 11-97
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Punts-Avg. 4-27.0 2-35.5
Concord: Passing - B.J. Beecher 22-36-1 267 yards 3 TDs. Rushing – Rocky Reid 13-62, Beecher 6-25, Terry Cassell 6-15, Pemberton 1-2. Receiving – Parker Swaringen 5-71, Zosh Heilig 3-55 TD, Bravone Howard 4-40, Alex Asbury 5-27.
Havelock: Passing – Pharoh Cooper 7-17-0 64 yards 2 TDs, Travis Sabdo 2-2-0 36 yards TD. Rushing - Derrell Scott 18-145, Cooper 9-81, Taylor Woods 3-32, London Duvall 1-8. Receiving – Michael Bowman 3-37, Keion Joyner 2-36 TD, C.J. Lindsey 1-12 TD, Harry Caldwell 1-11 TD, Woods 2-4.