Mallard Creek’s football team has had three tough road games during its run through the N.C. 4AA state playoffs.
The Mavericks now have one more road game – and this one’s for the big prize.
Mallard Creek fought back from an eight-point deficit to force overtime, then pulled out a 41-38 victory over top-seeded East Forsyth on Friday for the 4AA Western Regional title.
Chancery Bowman ran for 129 yards and caught four passes for 65 yards, and came up with two big plays late in the game for the sixth-seeded Mavericks.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Bowman hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from James Smith with 30.7 seconds left, with Smith following with a 2-point conversion run. After holding the Eagles to a 32-yard field goal in their first overtime possession, Bowman went around the left side for a four-yard TD to give Mallard Creek the win.
Smith finished with 354 yards total offense for Mallard Creek. He threw for 202 yards and one touchdown, and ran for a game-high 152 yards and three touchdowns.
But East Forsyth nearly matched the Mavericks.
Quarterback Noah Smith threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns, and Nique Martin had a 95-yard kickoff return in staking the Eagles to a 21-17 lead at the half.
East Forsyth added touchdown runs from Antwon Porter and Christian Beal in the second half, the second score putting the Eagles ahead 35-27 with 8:48 remaining.
East Forsyth managed to stop Mallard Creek on downs twice in the closing stages of the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks got the ball back for one last shot with 2:39 left.
Ten plays later, Bowman and Smith gave Mallard Creek new life, and the Mavericks a third consecutive trip to the 4AA state championship game.
Records: Mallard Creek 13-2, East Forsyth 14-1.
Worth mentioning: Mallard Creek kicker Anthony Valderrama went 3-for-3 on extra point kicks, and hit field goals of 31 and 26 yards in regulation. … East Forsyth pulled off a nifty fake punt early in the second quarter, turning what had been a 4th-and-25 into a first down on Antwan Rhyne’s 31-yard run. … Porter finished with 33 rushing yards and Beal (a 1,600 yard rusher this season) to just 17 Friday. But Martin had nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
What's Next: The Mavericks will play Greensboro Page – a 49-23 winner over Middle Creek in the Eastern Regional final – for their third consecutive 4AA state title on Dec. 12 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Game time is 12:05 p.m.