Five moments that mattered in Tarboro's victory
Saturday, December 15, 2018
RALEIGH — For a half, it was close, but in the end it was the type of romp the Vikings have grown accustomed to during this now 30-game win streak.
Tarboro football won its sixth state championship on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium, defeating No. 4 seed East Surry, 50-10, to complete a second straight 15-0 season.
Here are five plays that resonated in the victory.
1. East Surry’s scoop-and-score, 4:02, first quarter: After missing a field goal on a drive that went seven-plus minutes to open the game, the East Surry defense forced a fumble by Tarboro’s Clifton Joyner on the Vikings’ second offensive play. Cardinals linebacker Gunnar Jones scooped it up for an 18-yard fumble recovery touchdown return. That flipped an empty drive to start the game into a 7-0 lead for East Surry. It was also the first time since Oct. 2017 that the Vikings had trailed in a game.
2. Joyner regains the lead, 8:34, second quarter: Joyner, the same player whose fumble gave East Surry the early edge, took a pitch 17 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings their first lead of the game at 14-7. The scoring drive started just inside the opponent’s 30-yard line, and was set up by a nice punt return by Keon Caudle. They would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.
“(The coaches) know me. They know I’m going to brush it off like it was one mistake. I just wanted to go in there and do it all over again. Keep going.”
3. McDaniels’s 68-yard scramble, 10:16, third quarter: To start the second half, the Vikings found themselves in an uncharacteristically close game, leading the Cardinals by a 14-10 score. That four-point cushion quickly became an 11-point one when Vikings quarterback Kimani McDaniels, an all-state sprinter, took a rollout to the right 68 yards for a nearly-untouched score, his second of the game. Coming in, the junior had two rushing touchdowns all season. He finished the game with 112 yards and those two touchdowns from 36 and 68 yards.
“They were packing in everything so tight, so we just thought, let’s get Kimani on that edge,” Craddock said. “When my guys say, ‘Come on, Coach, Kimani’s fast,’ that guy’s fast. It was our intent to try and get him out and make a play for us.”
McDaniels was named the game’s MVP. Three months ago, he wasn’t even the full-time starter.
“Hats off to him. He’s been fantastic,” Craddock said. “You can’t just worry about those three backs. It’s one-two-three-four. You have to stop the fourth also.”
4. Caudle’s fake punt for a score, :11, third quarter: After Tarboro’s Kendarius Jenkins had intercepted East Surry’s Jefferson Boaz late in the third quarter with a 29-10 lead, the drive for the Vikings appeared to have stalled. They even punted the ball, but a running into the kicker penalty gave them a chance to redo fourth down. This time, they called a fake. Punter Winston Johnson faked a bad snap, while Keon Caudle took the direct snap and went streaking down the right sideline for an easy 40-yard score. That made it 36-10.
“We always work on it in practice,” Caudle said. “In a game we hardly ever run (the fake punt). I was kind of shocked when he said purple-purple-purple. I was like, purple?”
Added Craddock: “I think I said it four times to make sure they clearly understood it.”
5. Caudle’s exclamation point, 4:36, fourth quarter: After having a punt return called back due to penalty, Jeff Craddock and the coaching staff seemed intent on letting senior captain Caudle finish off the scoring with a punctuation mark, and so Caudle took a handoff and sprinted through the defense for a 33-yard touchdown run to make it 50-10, completing a second half in which the Vikings outscored the Cardinals, 36-0.