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ROLESVILLE — It was a football game that was decided in the final minute, but Rolesville held off the visiting Terry Sanford Bulldogs 34-28 to achieve their first 6-0 start in school history Friday night.
"What we learned is that we can face adversity tonight," Rolesville head coach Martin Samek said. "We showed enough guts to win a football game like this when it comes to it."
The first quarter was full of highlights for the Rams. The defense got to the quarterback twice. Then on their first offensive possession, Jashaun Patterson took an end-around sweep and ran 61 yards for the first touchdown of the night.
Then on the next possession, Josh Pullen broke off a 60-yard rushing touchdown to put the Rams up 14-0.
Rolesville recorded two more sacks on the following drive from Jacorrey Bible and James Cowan.
However, Terry Sanford finally put themselves on the scoreboard with a 1-yard rushing touchdown with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs caught the Rams off guard with a surprising onside kick. Terry Sanford recovered it and then scored on a 4-yard quarterback sneak early in the second quarter.
It took a while for Rolesville to respond, but the Rams eventually broke the tie after a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Byrum Brown to Patterson with a minute left in the first half.
Terry Sanford tried to push the ball down the field and score some points before halftime, but Rolesville's Ethan Daniel intercepted a deep pass to preserve the 21-14 lead for the Rams going into the second half.
In the third quarter, both teams scored one touchdown each. Terry Sanford completed a 13-yard pass in the end zone with less than four minutes left in the period. Then less than two minutes later, Pullen scored his second rushing touchdown on a 1-yard push. That gave Rolesville a 28-21 lead going into the final quarter.
"We wanted to get into a run situation and dictate how Terry Sanford plays defense," Samek said. "I think we did a very good job with that. We passed the ball when we needed to and we ran the ball when we needed to. Josh Pullen had a monster night. Our quarterback Byrum Brown did an fantastic job of doing some things and making some good throws. Our offense clicked pretty well all night."
Terry Sanford was driving down the field to try and tie the game again. However, a botched snap caused a fumble and Rolesville's Darius Johnson recovered it on the 12-yard line.
With less than three minutes left in the game, it seemed as if the Rams put the final nail in the coffin when Pullen scored his third rushing touchdown of the game on a 32-yard sprint.
"The offensive linemen did a really good job," Pullen said. "We went over what we had to do in practice this week and we came out and did it."
Rolesville missed the extra point to make the score 34-21, but the student section was already telling the Terry Sanford team to go warm up the bus. But in high school football, nothing is over until it's over.
Terry Sanford drove down the field and scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit at 34-28 with 1:30 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs needed to recover the onside kick to give themselves a chance. And they did. Rolesville's student section grew quiet, but then they continued cheering for their defense once they took the field.
The Rams fed off the home crowd energy by recording two sacks in Terry Sanford's attempt at a comeback. That gave Rolesville seven sacks from seven different players for the night.
"We try to come at the quarterback from all over the place on defense," Samek said. "We have kids who are relentless. Everyone is running to the ball."
With 40 seconds left in the game, Terry Sanford threw a deep pass near Rolesville's red zone. Daniel jumped up and picked off his second pass of the night to give the ball back to the Rams. Rolesville's defense prevented a comeback to hold on and win 34-28.
"When the ball went up in the air, I thought that this could either break us or win us the game," Daniel said. "I knew I had to make a play because I didn't know if anybody else would."
The Rams recorded seven sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Even though they allowed 28 points scored against them, Samek said it all came down to those three takeaways from his team.
"Whoever has the most turnovers is probably going to lose the game," Samek said. "Thankfully, we won the turnover battle. Our defense came up big when they needed to. They did a great job when it was time to do a good job."
Rolesville pounded Terry Sanford on the ground with four rushing touchdowns. Three of them came from Pullen. The senior running back said that Samek wanted to push for a stronger running game to close out the contest in the fourth quarter.
"At the end of the third quarter, Coach Samek told us he wants us running the ball downhill so we can hurry up and end this game," Pullen said.
On defense, the Rams gave up a touchdown every quarter. However, they made just enough big plays to keep their win streak alive.
"I was making sure we all kept our head up throughout the night," Daniel said. "We stayed focused and made sure to fix our mistakes."
With the win, Rolesville improved to 6-0, which is something they have never gotten close to doing since the school first opened in the fall of 2013. Now the Rams are in prime position to make their presence known in the NAC 6 conference.
"Our 6-0 start is in the past now," Samek said. "We have to get ready for conference play. Our conference is probably the best in the county. It's human nature to get a big head and think that everything is going to go your way. We have to make sure we keep working."
Rolesville will have a bye week and then take on Wakefield on the road Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.
"We played really good tonight and we've worked on a lot of things these past few weeks," Pullen said. "We still have a long way to go."
"This season is going great," Daniel said. "We just have to keep it up and keep our head in the game."