Friday, December 10, 2021

Dudley Tops Rose in Record Breaking 3A Title Game

CHAPEL HILL – Records fell in Friday night's 3A state championship game between the Dudley Panthers and the JH Rose Rampants. Fans in attendance were treated to an offensive spectacle as the two teams combined for 109 points, breaking a fourteen-year-old record. Dudley set the record for most points in a neutral site title game as the Panthers raced past the Rampants, 69-40, to secure their seventh state championship and first in five seasons.

Everything seemed to be going Dudley's way at the start of the game. A holding penalty on the first play of the game and a sack two plays later forced an early punt from deep in Rose territory. A good return set up the Panthers at the Rampant 29-yard line. Five plays later, RJ Baker rushed it in from three yards out. On the ensuing drive, a pass over the middle was picked off by Jaylan Richmond, who raced fifty-six yards for the pick-six and an early two-score lead. After forcing another punt, Dudley's Michael Shaw burst through the line and sprinted seventy-six yards down the home sideline for the Panthers' third score to open the game.

JH Rose responded with an eight-play drive on its next possession. After Will Taylor threw a pass where only his guy could get it, Jayden Grimes hauled in a catch in the left side of the end zone to give the Rampants their first points of the night. This seemed to give some momentum to the Rose defense as well, and the Rampant faithful were yelling ecstatically when sophomore safety Jameer Roach stepped in front of a Dudley pass and scooted fifty-nine yards down the field for the pick-six. At the end of the first quarter, things looked to be going Rose's way as the Rampants had cut the Panthers' lead to one score.

Dudley found its mojo again in the second quarter. After giving up the scoring interception the drive before, Jahmier Slade was determined to not let that be the deciding factor in the first half. The senior quarterback engineered a seven-play, sixty-five-yard scoring drive with Slade himself running it in around the left side to extend the Panthers' lead to 27-14. It was a short-lived momentum burst, though, as a bad snap on a punt attempt on Dudley's next possession set up Rose at the six-yard line. Senior running back Klavon Brown did the rest one play later and one score separated the two teams halfway through the second quarter.

In what seemed to be the critical turning point of the game, fortune favored the Panthers late in the quarter as the Panthers were able to add two touchdowns in the last minute of the first half. A recovered fumble set up a five-yard Mekhi Wall rushing score and a recovery on the ensuing kickoff helped Dudley go into the half with a 49-20 lead after Jahmier Slade's fourteen-yard scoring pass to RJ Baker.

What was supposed to be a football state championship game turned into a track meet of sorts in the third quarter as each team found new ways to score each time they held the ball. A big kickoff return got the Panthers started in Rose territory and the western regional champions took advantage of the great field position, scoring a minute and a half later on Jahmier Slade's second rushing touchdown of the evening. Rose refused to relent even in the face of a seemingly insurmountable Dudley lead. Will Taylor and Jayden Grimes connected for the second time of the evening, a forty-three-yard pass that picked up the mood on the Rampant sideline early in the third quarter.

The two teams kept trading blows like heavyweight fighters through the rest of the quarter. After Dudley scored on a Slade to Wall pass for the second time on the night, Rose got back on the board with a long pass from Taylor to Montez Green. Dudley went right back down the field, with Slade keeping it for his third score of the night. Just when it looked like the fireworks would slow down, RJ Baker took a Rose punt to the house to make it 69-34 going into the final quarter. Rose would add a late score to set the final tally.

MVP – Jahmier Slade (Dudley)

Dudley Def. MOP – Logan Wright (DE)

Dudley Off. MOP – Michael Shaw (RB)


JH Rose Off. MOP – Jayden Grimes (WR)

JH Rose Def. MOP – Klavon Brown (LB)