REIDSVILLE — There was no third-round stumbling block for Reidsville this year.
The Rams turned away upset-minded Lincolnton 13-10 Friday night and advanced to a 2-A West Regional championship showdown with Shelby next Friday.
It will be Reidsville’s fourth straight home playoff game.
Shelby knocked off previously undefeated North Rowan 45-21.
A year after falling in the third round at Carrboro, the Rams (12-2) are headed to their 10th appearance in the state’s final four in the last 12 years. Reidsville has notched five of its record 18 state championships during that span.
This one, much last week’s 27-19 victory over Polk County, came down to the final minutes. And again, it was Reidsville’s defense that turned back ninth seed Lincolnton’s fourth-quarter attempts to claim a third straight road upset.
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Trailing by three points, the Wolves (9-5) drove to the Reidsville 10-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. But Jayron Rankin’s third-down sack of quarterback Jordan Easter forced Lincolnton to attempt a 34-yard field goal.
Freshman Graham Willis, who had kicked a 28-yarder in the third quarter to cut the lead to three, missed and Reidsville dodged the bullet.
The Rams marched all the way to the Lincolnton 1-yard line with hopes of putting the game out of reach but Justice Charles recovered a fumbled snap and the Wolves had one more chance.
Thanks to a pass interference call that converted a fourth-and-8 play, the Wolves had yet another chance. This time, negative yardage stops by Rankin and Omar McCollum preserved the victory.
“We tried to give it away,” Reidsville coach Jimmy Teague said. “The defense, I tell you what, they played well against a tough bunch of guys. We stopped them when we needed to stop them.”
Reidsville grabbed a 13-0 halftime lead on the strength to two perfectly thrown passes by junior quarterback Devante Williams and fingertip receptions by Eric Poteat and Noel Cook. The plays covered 67 and 61 yards.
Williams finished with 169 yards passing on a 7-11-1 night.
He also broke two 50-plus runs but Lincolnton’s defense turned back both of those scoring chances. Williams finished with 112 yards rushing on eight attempts.
Cook, a sophomore linebacker, notched with 16 tackles and Rankin had 13 to lead the Ram defensive effort.
Reidsville, the No. 4 West seed, and Shelby, No. 6, are the two most winning programs in North Carolina high school history.
Their only two previous meetings came in state championship games with Shelby winning in 2005 and Reidsville getting even in 2007.
R--Eric Poteat 67 pass from Divante Williams (Brad Green kick)
R--Noel Cook 61 pass from Williams (pass failed)
L--Justice Charles 28 run (Graham Willis kick)
L--Willis 28 field goal