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Charlotte-area high school football playoffs: A night of magic

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

What an amazing Friday night for area teams in the second round of the N.C. prep football playoffs.

Everywhere you looked, there were some emotional story lines:

• Rocky River, down 29-16 to Porter Ridge at home, scored 21 points in a five-minute span in the third quarter to keep its magical season going. Rocky River won 37-29 and discovered something about itself. After running back Ellijah Jett gave his team a lead with a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, quarterback Nalil Ramadan ran in for the final score.

“We weren’t going to leave here tonight without a win,” said Jett, who has been invited to the prestigious U.S. Army All-American underclassmen combine. “We believed in ourselves and we were going to fight until the end.”

• Lincolnton switched Division I-recruited defensive tackle Darian Roseboro into the backfield against top-seeded Winston-Salem Carver and Roseboro helped produce a 28-27 upset. He ran 11 times for 45 yards in the fourth quarter. Four of those runs gave his team a first down. He also had a touchdown as Lincolnton ended Carver’s 11-game win streak. Carver, which had fallen behind 14-0 in the first quarter, rallied to take a 27-21 lead with five minutes left at home. But Lincolnton drove 65 yards in 13 plays before QB Jordan Easter hit Justice Charles with the game-winning, 13-yard touchdown pass with 88 seconds left.

• In South Carolina, Rock Hill South Pointe, starting six sophomores, upset favored Goose Creek on the road, ending the Gators’ 38-game win streak. This came after South Pointe wasted a 10 point second-quarter lead and trailed 21-17 at halftime. However, South Pointe produced a brilliant defensive effort in the second half to rally and win.

• In north Charlotte, Will Grier put the exclamation point on one of the greatest careers in Mecklenburg County history. He threw for 592 yards and six touchdowns in a 69-28 win against Harrells Christian. Davidson Day won its third straight state championship. In Grier’s final two games as a high school quarterback, he threw for 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns.

• In Concord, the Spiders got 221 yards and three scores from running back Rocky Reid but had to hold on for a tough 21-14 win as Piedmont backup QB Hadden Gsell drove his team down the field for two late-game touchdowns. Time ran out before Gsell could lead a third.

• In Morganton, Forestview, a No.9 seed, upset No.1-seeded Freedom 35-34 after sophomore Moe Neal scored on a 1-yard sweep with 16 seconds to play. Forestview advanced to the third round for the first time in school history.

• In Statesville, Asheville Reynolds kicker Thomas Blakey’s field goal in the third overtime gave his team a surprise 52-49 win.

• In Asheville, Weddington braved cold conditions and No.-2 seeded Asheville to win 14-10. Warriors quarterback Ryan Black had a 20-yard touchdown with nine minutes to play. His team -- especially his defense -- made that stand up. Weddington advances to the third round for the first time in school history.

Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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