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High School Football | Edenton ousted by Tarboro in 1AA regional final

Tarboro 48 John A. Holmes 7

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Tarboro’s Jyron Albritton (right) takes down John A. Holmes’ Nakevin Hill Friday at Tarboro High School.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, December 9, 2018

TARBORO — In the third quarter of the 1AA NCHSAA East Regional Final Friday, Tarboro’s Keon Caudle received a John A. Holmes punt at the Vikings’ 45-yard line.

Several broken tackles and moves down the left sideline later, Caudle found the end zone in what was the highlight play of the night.

His touchdown was a microcosm of the game as not much went the Aces’ way all night and it put the Vikings up by six touchdowns. John A. Holmes’ season ended with a 48-7 loss to Tarboro.

It’s the second consecutive season that Edenton’s playoff run ends in the East Regional final against the Vikings as Tarboro handed the Aces a similar loss last year of 50-7.

“They’ve got a great football team,” John A. Holmes coach Paul Hoggard said. “Really, really good on both sides of the ball and special teams. Tremendous players and their coaching staff does a great job. They’re hard to beat.”

If there’s such a thing as a perfect first half, the No. 1 seeded Vikings (14-0) just about had it.

Tarboro scored on every possession it had aside from kneeling to run out the clock in the second quarter.

On the defensive side, the Vikings allowed only one Aces first down.

John A. Holmes (12-2) standout running back Mitjonta Stanley, who finished the season with a school-record 2,947 rushing yards, was held to only seven yards on three carries in the first 24 minutes.

By the end of the half, the Aces found themselves in a 28-0 hole as Tarboro came storming out of the gate.

On the game’s first possession, senior Clifton Joyner, Jr., ran up the middle 40 yards to put the Vikings up 7-0 early.

Edenton’s ensuing drive lasted just two plays as a Kentreaz Coston pitch to Nakevin Hill fell to the ground for the Aces’ first of three turnovers and the ball was recovered by Tarboro’s Caudle.

Four plays later, senior Jaquez Edge ended a short 18-yard drive with a score to make it 14-0.

John A. Holmes punted on its remaining three drives it had in the first half, while the Vikings put together two more time-consuming drives of five-plus minutes.

Joyner added another touchdown, while Caudle also rushed for a score to reach 28 points before half. The Vikings rushed for nearly 200 yards in the first two quarters.

“In the first half, we played about as well as we could have played,” Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said.

“(Tarboro had) a lot to do with that,” Hoggard added, about the Aces’ early-game struggles. “We just couldn’t really get anything going. They’re the reason for that, they’re pretty good.”

Friday night’s second half had a more promising start for John A. Holmes as it was finally able to get down the field after managing just 12 yards of offense in the first half.

Stanley finally broke free on the half’s opening play with a 10-yard run as he ended with 71 yards on nine carries for the night. A 35-yard completion two plays later from seniors Coston to Zion Boston put the Aces in business with first and goal from the nine.

Just 65 seconds in, it looked like Coston connected with senior Chace Kelly for a nine-yard touchdown pass to end the shutout, but after a few minutes of discussion the officials ruled that Coston was past the line of scrimmage before throwing.

Instead, John A. Holmes eventually turned the ball over on downs.

After the Aces came up with their first defensive stop of the night, they were in business again after a Stanley 25-yard run got them to the 11-yard line. Stanley was hit the next play, however, and the Vikings recovered the fumble.

Tarboro quarterback Kimani Mcdaniels scored on a short keeper on the ensuing drive as Caudle’s highlight-reel punt return came after that to put the Vikings up 42-0 in the third, when the clock began to run for the remainder of the game.

They’ll face East Surry next weekend for the 1AA state championship.

Edenton avoided the shutout on what ended up being the last play of its season. Coston hit Boston up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown.

“I thought we had a great year,” Hoggard said. “(Coston) was able to come back for his senior year and have a great year, and (Stanley) just had a fantastic year. A lot of kids had a great year. 12-2 is pretty good.”

It’s the second consecutive year the Aces finish with 12 wins in 14 games as they fell to Northeastern and Tarboro for those two losses in both years.

Hoggard finishes his fourth season as Edenton’s varsity head coach as the 11 seniors who played their last game in a John A. Holmes uniform on Friday are the first group to be in the program with him at the helm their entire high school career.

“Tremendous group,” Hoggard said. “Great group of guys and one girl. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. A lot of fun to be around and a great group to coach.”

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