Photos and article from Kai Jones
On a cold night in Gaston, Rosewood had no answer for Northampton quarterback Anthony Harding.
The Jaguars (10-2), behind a three-touchdown performance from Harding, beat the Eagles (6-3) in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs 34-16 after trailing 16-0 early in the second quarter.
Harding was the big difference as the 6-1, 230-pound bruiser became too much of a load to bring down in the freezing south of 40-degree weather. Harding finished with 18 carries for 218 yards on the night.
“We had a hard time containing their big-play athletes,” Rosewood head coach Robert Britt said.
Rosewood got off to a quick start as the Eagles punched in a touchdown on their first drive after a Northampton fumble on the first play from scrimmage. The touchdown came via a four-yard Rocco Raper to Rylan Hobbins screen pass.
Three plays later, Northampton fumbled again in its own territory. The ensuing drive was capped off with a David Lamm two-yard score.
Northampton punted it back to Rosewood four plays later. The Eagles got into the red zone, but the drive stalled, and a 35-yard field goal from Zach Gordon gave Rosewood a 16-0 lead with 10:57 left in quarter two.
It seemed like Harding and the Jags flipped a switch after the Eagles’ field goal. Harding scored on a 55-yard run just three plays later to make it 16-8. Three minutes after that, Rosewood fumbled a snap, and one play later, Kwamie Pitt scored from 27 yards out to make it 16-16 with 6:43 left.
In the third quarter, Harding’s 97-yard scamper was the lone score and gave Northampton a 22-16 lead heading into the final stanza.
Harding’s 30-yard score with 3:56 left was the essential nail in the coffin of Rosewood’s season. The Jaguars’ Jahmeik Reid added a 30-yard touchdown for good measure with 1:52 left for the final score of 34-16.
The Eagles were outscored 34-0 in the final 35 minutes of the game.
“I don’t think it’s anything that we didn’t do, but more of what Northampton County did,” Britt said. “You just have to tip your hat off to them.”
The Eagles graduate 12 seniors. Rosewood went 32-10 in four years. The Class of 2022 is the winningest group at Rosewood in the MaxPreps era (since 2004).
“They’re a big part of where we’re at now,” Britt said. “It’s a building block every year and they’ve laid their bricks. We got a solid road that we’re on and they’re a big part of it.”
The Jags advance to round four, where they will travel to 1-AA defending state champions Tarboro.