Photo courtesy of BT Douthit
The Murphy Bulldogs and the Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy Gryphons faced off in the First Round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A State Playoffs last Friday night. The Dogs were fired up to be playing at home, and they used that home field advantage to secure a 28-20 win over the Gryphons.
It was a tight game all the way through. In the first quarter, sophomore Running Back Ty Laney got the scoring started for the Dogs as he scampered for a 63 yard Touchdown run at the 10 minute mark. The Gryphons were able to respond fairly quickly however, as Bryce Jergenson punched one in from 48 yards out to tie it up at 7 all.
In the second quarter, Jergenson ran another one in to give TJCA a 14-7 lead. That lead didn’t last long though, as Murphy Offensive Coordinator Joseph Watson dialed up the perfect play and Kellen Rumfelt threw a dime to Hunter Laney for a 54 yard Touchdown. The Dogs pulled some trickery on the PAT and were successful on their 2 point conversion, which gave them a 15-14 lead with about 2 minutes left in the half.
Then the lights went out. An actual bank of lights went out as Murphy was about to kick the ball back to TJCA after the long passing TD that allowed them to take a 15-14 lead. After some conversation, the referees sent both teams to the locker room so that the lights could have time to be fixed. The remaining minute and 50 seconds of the second quarter would be played after halftime.
During the break the lights were fixed, and play was resumed. The remaining 2 minutes of the second quarter was uneventful, as TJCA basically ran out the clock.
In the third quarter, the Dogs defense was stout and gave their offense some extra possessions. On one of those extra possessions, sophomore Running Back John Ledford broke free for a 40 yard TD run, which after the missed PAT made it 21-14 Murphy. Gryphons do-it-all QB Bryce Jergenson ran for his 3rd TD of the night with 1:21 left in the 3rd quarter, but was flagged after the TD for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that backed the PAT try up 15 yards. The long PAT was no good, and the Dogs still clung to a 21-20 lead heading into the Fourth.
In the Fourth, senior Running Back Ray Rathburn scored a 33 yard Touchdown that ended up being the final score of the night for either team, as the Dogs went ahead 28-20.
The play of the game however came later in the Fourth quarter, when Thomas Jefferson was in the red zone. The Gryphons dropped back to pass and fired one into the endzone where Ryland Dickey wrestled the ball away from the TJCA wide receiver and came away with an interception, giving the Dogs the ball back and ultimately saving their season.
Murphy will travel to number 1 seed Elkin next Friday for the 2nd round of the NCHSAA Playoffs.