NCHSAA State Championship Update: Hickory rallies past Seventy First, wins 3A title

Hickory marched 62 yards in the closing minutes Friday night and rallied past Seventy-First, 33-26, to capture the 3A state football championship.

Playing at Kenan Stadium on the UNC campus at Chapel Hill, the Red Tornadoes capped a 16-0 season and won the state title for the second time in school history.

Hickory’s other championship came in 1996.

Seventy-First finished 15-1.

Hickory junior quarterback Brady Stober entered the game with nearly 4,000 passing yards for the season, but it was his running on the final drive that helped push his team to the state championship.

Tied at 26-all, Hickory started at its 38.

Stober ran 16 yards to the Seventy-First 38, then completed key passes to Damarion Lee and DeShawn Malley. Isaiah Lackey, who ran for three touchdowns Friday night, also carried four times for 22 yards in the final drive.

On first-and-goal from the Falcon 8, Stober broke two tackles and scored the go-ahead score. Braeden McCourt’s conversion kick made it 33-26.

Seventy-First had one more threat. The pass completion and a pass interference call against Hickory moved the Falcons to the Red Tornadoes’ 34 with 11 seconds to play. That threat ended on the game’s final play when Hickory’s Will Prince intercepted a Nance pass in the end zone.

The game’s final 12 minutes were a blur of back-and-forth lead changes and ties.

Hickory, trailing 19-18 late in the third quarter, put together its best drive of the second half. The Red Tornadoes moved 76 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a 12-yard run by Lackey. Brady Stober then connected with Damarion Lee on a two-point conversion, giving Hickory a 26-19 lead with 8:41 remaining.

Then Seventy-First answered. Donavan Frederick returned the Hickory kickoff 32 yards to the Red Tornadoes; 45.

The Falcons then moved the distance, scoring with 2:42 remaining on a 6-yard pass from Deandre Nance to Jaydyn Surgeon. Devlin Coleman’s conversion kick tied the game.

Stober finished with 21-of-30 passing for 238 yards.

Seventy-First did most of its damage on the ground, with Nance rushing for 159 yards and two scores, and Donavan Frederick adding 122 yards on the ground. Nance also passed for 90 yards.

Game summary

Hickory 7 11 0 15 – 33

Seventy-First 7 6 6 7 – 26

H – Isaiah Lackey 2 run (Braeden McCourt kick)

SF – Amire Drummond 13 pass from Deandre Nance (Devlin Coleman kick)

H – Lackey 1 run (Tyler Johnson run)

SF – Nance 1 run (pass failed)

H – FG McCourt 26

SF – Nance 38 run (run failed)

H – Lackey 12 run (Damarjon Lee pass from Brady Stober)

SF – Jaydyn Surgeon 6 pass from Nance (Coleman kick)

NCHSAA live scoreboard

The Picks

1A state championship

Mount Airy (15-0) vs. Tarboro (13-0), at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, noon Saturday – Does this pairing look familiar? It’s a rematch of last year, when Mount Airy won 20-7. They also met in th3 2017 finals, with Tarboro winning 32-7. The Granite Bears are 2-2 in state championship games, while Tarboro is making its 14th title-game appearance. The Vikings are 8-5 in these games.

Mount Airy, which scored twice in the final minutes to beat Robbinsville last week, is led by Tyler Mason, who has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 39 touchdowns. Tarboro also has a powerful ground game. Caiden Everette (112 yards, two touchdowns) and Mason Satterfield (three touchdowns) led the effort in last week’s 49-12 rout of West Columbus in the 1A East finals.

By the way, these two schools are 211 miles apart – the greatest distance between any championship-weekend matchups.

2A state championship

Reidsville (14-1) vs. Clinton (15-0), at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, 3 p.m. Saturday – It wouldn’t be state championship weekend without Reidsville and Clinton. Reidsville is 9-3 all-time in the finals and won state titles in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Rams lost in the championship game the past two years and are in the finals for the seventh time in eight years. Clinton is 5-5 in state title games.

Reidsville is led by Al Lee, the school’s all-time leading passer, who has thrown for 3,300 yards and 46 touchdowns this season. Queshyne Flipkin is the school’s all-time leading wide receiver. Clinton prefers to move on the ground. Amaris Williams ran for four touchdowns in the Dark Horses’ 36-22 East Regional victory last week against Northeastern.

4A state championship

Weddington (13-2) vs. Hoggard (14-1), at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, 7 p.m. Saturday – This is Weddington’s first appearance in the 4A finals, but the Warriors won 3AA state championships in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Hoggard reached the championship game once before, winning in 2007.

Weddington QB Tyler Budge has passed for nearly 3,000 yards this season, but the Warriors have won their last two playoff games – against Grimsley and Independence – largely behind their second-half ground game. RB Nick Diamond has rushed for 870 yards this season but has nearly 300 of those the past two weeks. And Budge has run for almost 600 yards this season. Running the ball might be a wise strategy against Hoggard, as the Vikings have five pick-6’s this season, and Malakhai West has 15.5 sacks. Hoggard picked off two passes and blocked a punt last week.

Weddington is a champion before the game even starts. The Warriors’ Cheer Team recently won the state championship and will be leading the cheers Saturday night in Raleigh.

S.C. all-stars

North vs. South, in Touchstone Energy Bowl, at Myrtle Beach High, 3 p.m. Saturday – This game is being played for the first time in four years, after a COVID-caused interruption. The South won in 2018 and 2019. The North team has seven Charlotte-area players — QB Malachi Marshall and DL C.J. Dixon of South Pointe; OL Vance Ventry of Northwestern; DB Bryson Steele of York; OL Jake Recker of Indian Land; RB Elijah Coleman of Chester; and WR Dion Brown of Lewisville.

TV/Streaming Info

All NCHSAA games will stream on The 3A and 4A finals will also air on MeTV, OTA channel 18.3, as well as on many cable and satellite providers in the Charlotte market. Tap here to find the station for your provider