CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Murphy Bulldogs found themselves down a score twice in the 1A Football State Championship game, but the Bulldogs controlled the game for much of the afternoon rushing for 354 yards and holding the ball for over 29 minutes of the 48 played on the way to a 15-14 win. It was the Bulldogs eighth state championship win in NCHSAA play and the seventh for head coach David Gentry.
Things looked good for Plymouth early as Elijah Carmack slashed into the endzone from five yards out with 9:53 to go in the first quarter. It took a few possessions but Murphy was able to answer and tie the game at seven when Slade McTaggart got loose for a 10-yard touchdown run with 5:11 remaining in the first quarter.
Plymouth surged back in front late in the first quarter as Aryn Gibson tossed a bomb to Ta’Quaun White who streaked 56 yards for a score with :19 seconds to go in the first quarter giving Plymouth a 15-14 lead.
Coming out of halftime trailing 14-7, Murphy handed the ball to Kadrian McRae who dashed 47 yards to the endzone to cut the lead to 14-13 with 10:00 to go in the third. Plymouth was called for encroachment twice on the point after attempt and Gentry elected to pull the kicking unit off the field and go for two. Quarterback Joey Curry powered his way across the line for two, giving Murphy a 15-14 lead.
McRae was named the game’s Most Valuable Player rushing for 171 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Curry was named Murphy’s Most Oustanding Offensive player, going 4 for 8 on the day with 50 yards passing, adding another 16 yards on the ground. He played much of the game with injured index finger on his throwing hand after slicing his finger on a chinstrap buckle on the third play of the game.
Plymouth ended the season 12-4 on the season as champions of the Coastal 10 1A conference. The Vikings made their fifth straight appearance in an NCHSAA State Championship Game and their sixth all-time.
Murphy finished the year 15-1, champions of the Smoky Mountain 1A Conference. The Bulldogs returned to the State Championship for the 11th time since 1972, and the first time since 2013 when they defeated Plymouth 35-34.