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‘Canes claim another victim

GASTON – Give the old coach credit, he knows the game.

As the third quarter came to an end here Friday night, Diego Hasty gathered his Northampton County High School – West Hurricanes at the sideline.

&uot;This is the championship drive, men,&uot; he told them. &uot;This is where we go and win it.&uot;

Hasty’s word was good as West punched the ball in with 8:07 to play in the fourth quarter and knocked off Manteo 32-26 in the third round of the state playoffs.

Friday’s game was a battle between two of the best teams the 1-A ranks of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has to offer.

The Redskins mounted an early lead only to see the Hurricanes come back and surge ahead.

It was West leading 24-20 as the third quarter came to a close and Hasty told his team they were marching on a &uot;championship drive.&uot;

Already the Hurricanes had marched 26 yards on four plays to get to the Manteo 30-yardline as the third period expired.

Heading back on the field, senior Titus Lee picked up eight yards in two carries to get the ball to the 22-yardline where the Hurricanes faced third-and-two. Todd Squire scampered six yards on third down, followed immediately by a 10-yard run from Mack Parker to give the Hurricanes a first-and-goal from the five-yardline. Three plays later quarterback Randy Turner powered in from one-yard out to pad the lead. Turner then hit Keith Garner on the two-point conversion play to make it 32-20.

Manteo, who entered Friday’s game 12-1, wasn’t done, however, as they marched 65 yards on five plays on their next possession to trim the lead. Ryan Gibbs capped the drive with a three-yard plunge. That came one play after backup quarterback Allen Stallings connected with Brandon Harris on a 51-yard pass play. The conversion kick failed, leaving the Hurricanes up 32-26.

West was forced to punt on their next possession, but stopped Manteo on fourth-and-six to get the ball back.

Again the Redskins stopped West and got the ball back at the 45-yardline. Two incomplete passes and a penalty set up third-and-15, but Stallings found Hunter Meekins for a 15-yard pickup to make it first-and-10 from the 35 with less than a minute to play.

Manteo was charged with a motion violation, backing the ball up five yards before back-to-back sacks by Travis Hopson and Aljerald Butcher made it fourth-and-25 with 18 seconds to play.

The Redskins completed the fourth down pass, but time expired and the Hurricanes preserved the victory.

&uot;The defense stepped up,&uot; Hasty told his team after the game. &uot;We’ve said many times, defense wins championships.

&uot;Next week, the two best teams in the East will meet,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re going to Southside and we have to be ready.&uot;

While the Hurricanes can now prepare for Friday’s eastern championship game at Southside, the first-ever for a Northampton County public school, the early part of Friday’s contest didn’t seem to give them much hope for that trip.

There were six fumbles, three of which were lost on the exchange between center and quarterback, that led to a pair of Manteo touchdowns.

After the first, the West defense stiffened and stopped Manteo by forcing a fumble. Following a West punt, however, the Redskins struck paydirt first.

Starting quarterback Emanuel Davis rushed six times on the first drive, picking up 45 yards, including the two-yard run to paydirt with 2:39 to play in the first quarter. The PAT by Joel Creef made it 7-0 in favor of the Redskins.

Following another West punt, the Redskins went 25 yards on six plays to take a 14-0 lead when Gibbs scored on a three-yard plunge with 7:05 to play in the second quarter.

After taking the kickoff at their own 22-yardline, Hasty sent in backup quarterback Antonio Manely who helped the Hurricanes set sail on a 78-yard drive that took 15 plays and almost seven minutes off the clock.

Manley connected with Lee on the five-yard scoring pass with 22 seconds to play in the first half. Lee added the conversion to trim the deficit 14-8 at the intermission.

After forcing a MHS punt to start the second half, Turner reentered the game at quarterback and led his team on a 66-yard scoring drive that gave the Hurricanes the lead.

Lee scored again, this time on a 59-yard run down the home sideline. Turner added the conversion to make it 16-14.

The Redskins wasted little time taking the lead back, going 59 yards on just five.

Harris scored the TD with 5:41 to play in the third quarter and the conversion failed, leaving Manteo with a 20-16 lead.

West answered quickly, going 51 yards on five plays, mostly on the back of Parker. What appeared to be a touchdown pass for the Hurricanes was wiped off the board when the receiver was called out of bounds, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the Hurricanes to the 28-yardline where they faced fourth-and-23. Turner promptly connected with Garner for the scoring strike and then found Lee on the conversion to make it 24-20 in favor of the home team.

West outgained Manteo by one yard (271-270) during the contest, but most of the Hurricanes’ damage came on the ground where they picked up 238 yards.

Lee led the way with 145 yards on 27 carries followed by 45 yards from Squire and 43 from Parker.

Davis led the Redskins with 64 yards on 14 carries.

Northampton will now have the opportunity to make their first state football final as they travel to undefeated Southside Friday night.