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Back-to-back: Tarboro claims 1-AA state title with win over East Surry

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Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock, right, and Tarboro offensive coordinator Ricky Babb celebrate Saturday following the Vikings' 50-10 win over East Surry in the NCHSAA 1-AA state championship game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, December 15, 2018

RALEIGH — Tarboro football was in the rare position of playing from behind. It didn’t last long.

The Vikings quickly erased an early deficit and faced little resistance the rest of the way as they claimed the 1-AA state title with a 50-10 win over East Surry on Saturday at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.

It was Tarboro’s second consecutive 1-AA title, and sixth overall for the program. The Vikings also finished the season with a 15-0 record in back-to-back seasons.

“The team we played was very good,” Tarboro’s Keon Caudle said. “We knew what to prepare for, and we watched film and worked hard and did what we had to do.”

Tarboro dominated every aspect of the game after enduring a rash of early penalties that allowed the Cardinals to mount their most successful offensive possession to start the game. Tarboro’s defense was penalized four times on the game’s opening drive, including a 12-man on the field penalty that erased a would-be three-and-out.

That gave the Cardinals new life, and East Surry accepted the help, though its offense eventually stalled and was held to a field goal try that missed wide.

“I usually tell the guys to go get back if they lineup offside,” defensive end Ja’viyes Massenburg said. “I must not have saw a couple, but we got it under control pretty quick and dominated the rest of the way.”

Indeed, the vaunted Vikings defense proved to be too much for the Cardinals (11-4), whose defense ended up outscoring its offense.

The Cardinals scored first when their defense scooped up a Clifton Joyner fumble on Tarboro’s second offensive snap for a 7-0 lead. It was Tarboro’s first deficit since October of 2017, a span of 475 days.

That defensive highlight was the shining moment for the Cardinals (11-4), whose two-quarterback offense was only able to manage a second-quarter field goal, which cut into the Vikings’ 14-10 halftime lead.

Before long, Tarboro looked like, well, Tarboro. The Vikings scored touchdowns on every possession but two — the early fumble and a third-quarter punt.

Title game MVP and quarterback Kimani McDaniels, who entered the game with two scores across the previous 14 games, scored two touchdowns on his first two carries and finished with a team-high 112 rushing yards yards on six touches.

Joyner and Caudle — the other rusher to eclipse 100 rushing yards with 105 — each scored two touchdowns, and Jaquez Edge added another.

The Vikings, who had allowed 52 points all season, stuffed the East Surry running game for a net of zero yards, and limited what was a prolific passing attack to 138 yards and an interception.

Safety Kendarius Jenkins intercepted Jefferson Boaz and the Vikings turned that into a special teams score on a fake punt, and junior cornerback Cameron Powell tallied a trio of pass breakups, including one that disrupted a potential early go-ahead touchdown pass.

“Cam is one of those type of players that makes Tarboro football special,” Vikings coach Jeff Craddock said. “He wasn’t a starter early this year, and gradually, as coaches, we realized that when this kid is out there he’s always where he’s supposed to be.

“You couldn’t ask for a better young man, you really can’t.”

And the town of Tarboro couldn’t ask much more of its team.

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