GREENSBORO — Friday’s NCHSAA Class 4-A Midwest first-round football playoff game at Tarpley Stadium between Reagan and Dudley began as a story of contrasts.
Reagan, which opened in 2005 was making its first-ever postseason appearance, coming off of the best regular season in its brief history. Unfortunately for Reagan, Dudley, a perennial playoff power, ended the No. 11 Raiders’ storybook season by sending them to a 44-22 loss.
Prior to 2012, no Reagan team had won more than four games in a season, and this year’s squad featured 23 seniors, 19 of whom were starters, so hopes were high coming into Friday.
Dudley, meanwhile, won 3-AA state titles in 2007 and 2008, under Coach Steven Davis. The Panthers, who moved to the 4-A ranks prior to the 2010 season, have also gotten postseason berths in each of the last three years.
On Friday, quarterback Richard Hayes III sparked most of No.9 Dudley’s scoring, running for two touchdowns, passing for another, and also running for two 2-point conversions.
Hayes’ 58-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Moseley with just 8.6 seconds remaining before halftime increased the Panthers’ lead to 22-7, and seemed to build their momentum.
Dudley’s defense held the Raiders’ running game in check, allowing only 69 rushing yards.
“We made too many mistakes,” Coach Josh McGee of Reagan said. “Fourteen of their 22 second-half points came off of turnovers.’
A.J. Ikwechegh’s 64-yard kickoff return set up Reagan’s lone first-half touchdown on Ja’Shawn Joyner’s 24-yeard touchdown pass to Dakota Pinnix, which allowed the Raiders to take a 7-6 lead with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
Three Dudley penalties aided Reagan’s opening drive of the second half, which was capped by Joyner’s w-yard scoring run, cutting Dudley’s lead to 30-14.
However, the Panthers answered, increasing their margin to 36-14 on Edward Moseley’s 16-yard touchdown run at the third-quarter horn.
“We knew Dudley had been in the playoffs before,” said wide receiver Caleb Anthony, a Reagan senior who caught five passes for 61 yards. “We weren’t intimidated by that, but we knew we had to play hard. We’ve got a great group of guys on this team, and they’ve accomplished a lot this year.”
Joyner’s 16-yard scamper closed Reagan to 14 points behind at 36-22 with 8:58 remaining in the game, before Dudley pulled away on Hayes’ 9-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left.