Wednesday, 13 November 2019 21:35

McRae 'proud' of Rockets' efforts despite SEMSAC title loss

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Seventh grader Joe Parsons (62) scored a 70-yard fumble recovery for Rockingham's lone score on Wednesday. Seventh grader Joe Parsons (62) scored a 70-yard fumble recovery for Rockingham's lone score on Wednesday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

LAURINBURG — The Rockingham Middle School football team saw its postseason luck run out Wednesday in the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference championship game.

After winning a three-way tiebreaker last week to send them to the title bout as the West division representative, the Rockets would put forth a valiant first-quarter effort but lost in the season finale to Carver Middle School 30-6. 

The 24-point win proved to be the Eagles’ third straight SEMSAC title and second consecutive championship win over the Rockets. Last season, Carver defeated Rockingham 28-0 on its home field. When the two teams played earlier this fall, the Eagles blanked Rockingham 36-0.

Although his team would come up short, first-year head coach Larcoy McRae said he couldn’t be prouder of his team’s efforts all season.

“I’m very proud of all the boys. We really overachieved this year,” McRae said following the game. “I told them I didn’t see us winning more than two games and they really exceeded my expectations.

“This group learned how to become a family and what it means to be a family,” he added. “We started at the bottom and the boys worked their way to the top. We didn’t hoist the trophy tonight, but at least we got here.”

McRae noted that there were “two other teams who would love to be here,” noting Cordova and Anson middle schools, which finished tied for first in the West division.

“After the game I made sure the guys knew there was nothing to hang their heads about,” McRae said.

Carver quarterback Latrell Martin had a strong performance for the Eagles, rushing for three scores and adding a passing touchdown. The Rockets’ defense would keep Martin and the Eagles in check during the first quarter, as both teams were kept out of the scoring column.

Rockingham opened the game with a nine-play drive that saw catches by Paul McNeil (21 yards) and Jada Zimmerman (19 yards) move the ball to the Carver 28-yard line. But a fumble turned it over with two minutes remaining in the opening frame.

Carver’s first drive ended in a 62-yard Martin rushing touchdown that saw him break a handful of tackles before breaking loose down the left sideline. The two-point try was good and the Eagles led 8-0 with 7:42 to go in the half.

Following a Rockingham punt, Rocket defensive lineman Joe Parsons came up big on the next series for the visiting team. He would be responsible for Rockingham’s lone score when he scooped up a fumble following a completion and raced it 70 yards down the right sideline to the house. James Eason’s point after attempt was no good, but the Rockets cut their deficit to 8-6 with 2:49 left in the second.

“That scoring play was awesome,” McRae said of Parsons’ play. “The defense played it like we practiced it. Joe scooped it up and he’s a monster on defense. I thought he was going to run out of gas but he got it in the end zone.”

Martin would do damage on the second play of Carver’s next drive, again keeping the ball and rushing 68 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Another successful two-point conversion put the Eagles ahead by 10 points going into the half.

In the final 16 minutes of play, Carver scored on two of its four possessions. The first was a 34-yard passing score from Martin to Austin McCallum (4:44 left in third quarter), and the other was a 48-yard dash along the right edge by Martin (5:29, fourth quarter).

With the Rockets driving in the closing minutes, Carver’s Joshua Adams intercepted a Jordan Covington pass near midfield to seal the deal.

“The biggest thing I saw from the start of the season until tonight was the team’s determination and will to continue to fight,” McRae said.

“I’d like to thank the Lord for this season, and the administration at the school,” he closed. “The team’s moms and dads club also supported the boys from start to finish, and my hat is off to them. Also a big thank you to my coaching staff for a great season.”

The Rockets finished the 2019 season 4-4, having gone 3-1 against SEMSAC West division opponents. Carver finished undefeated.

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Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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