CONCORD – More than 2½ hours of grueling high school football had come down to this Friday night: one play, one chance.
Class 4A Waxhaw Cuthbertson had come to town and snatched the momentum right away for Jay M. Robinson, having rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. And now, the Cavaliers decided they were going to head back to Union County with the win.
They were going for two.
The Jay M. Robinson defense would have to come up big after struggling mightily in the final quarter, with Cuthbertson quarterback Parker Burke on a roll, displaying elusiveness and crisp passing.
As soon as the last play started, the Bulldogs attacked as if they were hungry and Burke had a piece of protein strapped to his uniform.
Two of the biggest, baddest Bulldogs – Daevin “The Mutant” Hobbs and D’Nas “Turn Out the Lights” White – were on Burke immediately, and speedy Sekou Christopher raced off the left edge and helped force Burke out of the pocket and to his right.
People are also reading…
Running out of real estate as he neared the sideline, Burke fired a pass to the right corner of the end zone.
But Jay M. Robinson defensive back Joshua Porch was on the spot and secured the ball for the interception.
The Bulldogs had survived.
The night ended with an emotional 29-28 overtime victory for Cream of Cabarrus fourth-ranked Jay M. Robinson at Bulldog Stadium, moving its winning streak to four games.
Jay M. Robinson moved to 4-1 overall on the season, while Cuthbertson dropped to 2-3. The Bulldogs also avenged last year’s close loss to the Cavaliers in Waxhaw.
It was the Class 2A Bulldogs’ first time defeating a Class 4A program since it took down Charlotte Harding University two seasons ago.
It was also monumental in that it showed the Bulldogs could defeat a good team in a close game after having won its previous three games by a combined score of 115-10 against struggling programs.
Even more, it was a critical outing for a program looking to contend for a state title this season.
“This was the type of win this program needs,” Bulldogs coach Darius Robinson said. “The whole team rushed the field after the game because we were excited to get that win. It was a big win for us.”
It had nearly turned into one of the biggest disasters.
Jay M. Robinson held what appeared to be a comfortable 22-7 lead going into the fourth quarter. They had played well and mostly kept Burke and Co. in check. But then the Cavaliers’ offense woke up in the final eight minutes and tied the game, 22-22, after driving down the field and converting a two-point conversion on a pair of bulleted throws from Burke (233 yards on 24-of-45 passing for four touchdowns on the night) with about five minutes left in regulation.
Jay M. Robinson quarterback Isaac Lee calmly led his offense down the field, completing multiple passes to Jamari Brooks. But the drive stalled when a Brooks catch was ruled just short of the first down marker, and Cuthbertson took a knee to send the game into overtime.
The Bulldogs had the first possession of overtime, with Hobbs lining up in the shotgun. On first down, he handed off the ball, but Jermaine Gray was stopped at the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Hobbs kept the ball and ran virtually untouched along the left side of the offensive line for the score. Pierre Roditti’s successful extra point made the score 29-22.
But now it was Cuthbertson’s turn, and Burke proved he was still hot, connecting with Evan Taylor on the Cavaliers’ first play to pull within a point.
That’s when Cuthbertson coach Andrew Markatine decided to go for it all, sending his offense back onto the field.
Jay M. Robinson was ready, and the triumvirate of Hobbs, White and Christopher applied pressure, taking away Burke’s initial read and forcing the rushed throw.
When Porch grabbed the interception, the Bulldogs immediately began to celebrate, with helmets flying off, coaches exulting, and emotions penetrating the night air.
“That’s a great football player for us,” Robinson said of Porch. “He does everything the right way. He embodies everything that we want to represent at Jay M. Robinson, as far as a student-athlete goes. I can’t say enough about Joshua Porch.”
Robinson lauded Cuthbertson for its comeback, but he also expressed pride in how his team responded to the adversity of squandering a double-digit lead and being on the brink of its second emotional loss of the season after falling short against Class 4A Mint Hill Independence on Opening Night.
“(The Cavaliers) did a great job,” Robinson said. “They found themselves down last week, and they just kept fighting (in a 35-28 win over South Mecklenburg). So we told our guys, ‘Even though we’re up, they’re not going to go away lightly.’
“But our guys played tough, too. Our guys played relentlessly, and they just kept going on to the next play. The maturation of this football team, winning a game like that in that type of environment with those caliber of players, hopefully, pays dividends for us down the road.”
The Bulldogs were led by Hobbs, the highly recruited defensive end/tight end, who was all over the field Friday.
“You can’t speak enough about the efforts of Daevin Hobbs,” the Jay M. Robinson coach said. “I talked to him before the game about putting on a showcase and letting people know that you’re the best player on the field. He did just that with his three rushing touchdowns. He also had a big catch for us to move the chains, and then he also had a couple sacks and a blocked field goal.
“‘The Mutant’ was on full display tonight, and he was not going to be denied.”
Quarterback Isaac Lee also had a strong showing, throwing touchdown passes to Hobbs and Xavier Burnett. Running back Na’Ledge Wright ran tough between the tackles, backfield mate William Suttles Jr. showed the ability to get out of touch situations with his speed and quickness, and sophomore receiver Bryan Rowe was elusive and helped pick up critical first-down yardage.
Defensively, the Bulldogs actually applied pressure on Burke all night long. Sometimes the junior quarterback simply made impossible plays, especially with Division I recruits like Hobbs and White chasing him, but the Bulldogs hunkered down collectively at the just the right time.
“I can’t talk enough about that defense and just, overall, how resilient they played together,” Robinson said. “They didn’t stop fighting, even when we gave up the lead in the fourth quarter. I love the fact that our guys just stayed together and stayed focused and kept fighting and going on to the next play.”
The Bulldogs are idle next week, and then they begin Yadkin Valley 1A/2A Conference play by traveling to Albemarle.