Weddington came up short in a bid to add to the school trophy case its first state championship since the school opened in 2000.
Northern Guilford defeated Weddington 14-7 to claim its fourth straight title in the past five years in the N.C. 3AA title game Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Nighthawks previously won in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but missed last year’s finals.
Weddington had won its initial 3AA Western Regional title in 2000.
The distance separating Weddington (14-2) from a chance to pull out a comeback victory was a yard and 11 seconds in the final moments.
A fourth-and-11 pass from quarterback Grayson Willingham to Joe Bensch over the middle of the field was good for only 10 yards. At that point the Warriors were out of timeouts and the Nighthawks went into a victory formation for the final snap.
“It was a great season and I have a great team here,” said Weddington coach Bill Carson, who quickly went onto the field to console his players. “The kids are a special group. They laid it all out on the line tonight. That’s all I can ask for.”
The Eastern Regional champions from Greensboro won their 10th straight game and finished the season with a 15-1 record.
Northern Guilford took a 7-0 lead when Tre Marsh intercepted a middle screen pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. The Nighthawks added a touchdown by driving eight plays and 72 yards. The big gain was a 30-yard pass from quarterback Cam Harris to Mook Reynolds one play before C.J. Freeman scored on a 13-yard run.
Weddington was in danger of falling behind 21-0 in the first half when Northern Guilford advanced to the Warriors’ 13-yard line, but the defense got the ball back on downs.
From there the Warriors mounted a 12-play, 84-yard touchdown drive to score on a 1-yard run by Brendan Assencao to trim the deficit to 14-7 at halftime. Junior quarterback Grayson Willingham completed passes of 18, 27 and 13 yards and the Warriors also were aided by 29 yards on two calls for unsportsmanlike behavior.
Willingham finished 12 of 26 for 180 yards with three interceptions. Harris went 12 for 20 for 136 yards with two touchdowns.