CHAPEL HILL – Hibriten slugged their way to a 16-14 victory over East Duplin in the first football State Championship appearance, claiming the school’s first title. Hibriten used a bend but don’t break defense and a great game from their punter to bend the field position and the game in their favor.
East Duplin took their third play from scrimmage, handing it to Melvin Scott, who ripped off an 81-yard run for a score, putting East up 7-0 with just over 8 minutes to go in the first quarter. Scott was named the East Duplin Most Outstanding Offensive Player for his three-carry, 108 yard and a touchdown performance.
The two teams trade possession uneventfully until East Duplin intercepted a pass at their own two early in the second quarter, taking over deep in their own end. On the next play from scrimmage, Chris Benson was nabbed for a two-yard loss and a safety, cutting the East Duplin lead to 7-2. After the free kick, Hibriten used a halfback pass from 9McKinley Witherspoon to a wide-open Miles Simon to take a 9-7 lead with 9:26 to go in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, Simon hauled in a 43-yard pass from quarterback Jaylen Scott for another touchdown, extending their lead to 16-7 with 1:53 to go in the first half. Simon was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, hauling in just the two catches, for a total of 96 yards and two scores.
East Duplin made a last push to make the game very interesting late, driving 99 yards on 20 plays in the fourth quarter, capped off by a 1-yard run by Chris Benson to make the score 16-14. Despite outgaining Hibriten 359-190 yards on the day, East Duplin just couldn’t overcome the tough field position they found themselves in most of the day.
Hibriten had a fantastic performance from their punter, Noah Haney, who punted six times for an average of 46 yards kept East Duplin deep in their own end most of the night. Five of those Haney punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the ten. He was named Hibriten’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. The Defensive Award for Most Outstanding Player for Hibriten went to Charles Tassinari, who had 16 tackles including an assist on a tackle for loss.