North Stanly fall short on late scores by Murphy

Comets, eliminated in second round of state 1AA playoffs, finish 10-2

North Stanly at Murphy. November 17, 2017

The North Stanly football team did what it does best Friday.

It scored points. Thirty-five of them, to be exact.

But even that wasn’t enough to keep the third-seeded Comets from elimination in the second round of the state 1AA playoffs.

Sixth-seeded Murphy scored twice in the final five minutes to overcome another strong performance by running back Cameron Davis and earn a 49-35 victory at R.N. Jeffrey Stadium.

The loss snapped a seven-game North Stanly winning streak that saw it outscore its opponents by a 314-47 margin. While the Comets’ season ends at 10-2, Murphy (11-2) advances to an unlikely West semifinal matchup against No. 7 East Surry next week.

North Stanly put itself in position to win the game when quarterback Avery Merrit snuck into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown that, when combined with Daniel Brabaw’s extra point, put his team ahead 35-34 with 9:14 remaining.

But Murphy battled right back to regain the lead five minutes later with an extended drive that ended on a 2-yard run by Keivon Allen and a successful two-point conversion.

The Comets’ bid for one final comeback ended when, after a promising 15-yard run by Davis, they turned the ball over on downs at their own 33. Murphy then put the game away with 47 seconds left when quarterback Joey Curry scored a clinching touchdown from 2 yards out.

Curry finished the game 203 passing yards and two touchdowns to go along with 20 rushing yards and and score.

North Stanly got off to a flying start against the Bulldogs when L.J. Rush returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown.

Davis also had a big first half, scoring three touchdowns on runs of 3, 59 and 2 yards. The junior running back finished with 195 yards on 28 carries, pushing his school-record rushing total over the 2,500 mark for the season. His 37 touchdowns were also a new North Stanly mark.

For all Davis’ efforts, though, the Comets still found themselves down 34-28 at halftime because of a balanced Murphy offense that got a pair of long touchdown passes from Joey Curry to go along with scoring runs from Slade McTaggart and Devonte Murray.

Both offenses took a deep breath during a scoreless third quarter to set the stage for the dramatic back-and-forth final period.

In addition to Davis’ running, Merrit completed 10 of 14 passes for 138 yards. Kolby Lamp was North Stanly’s leading receiver with four catches for 71 yards.

The Comets, however, hurt themselves by committing three turnovers, ending their hopes for extending a memorable season in which coach Scott Crisco’s team set a school record for victories while earning their ever Yadkin Valley 1A Conference title.