CHAPEL HILL, NC – Cardinal Gibbons struck first, but ultimately, East Forsyth held the Crusaders off with a 24-21 victory in the 4A State Championship game, earning the school’s second straight state championship and third overall.
Ty’shaun Lyles was the 4A Championship Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, leading the Eagles offensively with a pair of touchdown throws on 10 for 16 passing with 171 yards. He also rushed 17 times for 63 yards in the game.
Jacob Gill got the scoring going as Cardinal Gibbons took their opening possession eight plays and 56 yards, polished off when Gill hauled in a nine-yard scoring toss from Andrew Harvey. The throw gave the Crusaders an early 7-0 lead, but East Forsyth responded late in the quarter.
The two teams traded possessions until East Forsyth drove five plays and 65 yards in the latter part of the opening quarter. The Eagles got on the board thanks to a 59-yard pass from Lyles to Jamison Warren with 1:58 to go in the quarter, tying the game at seven.
Gibbons jumped back in front early in the second quarter when Harvey hit Cameron Noble for 40 yards and a score with just 36 seconds gone in the second frame. However, East Forsyth responded quickly as Lyles connected with Warren a second time, this one from 56 yards out to knot the score at 14 with 6:01 to go in the half.
The Eagles got a good bounce on the ensuing Crusader possession, as Jordan Timmons scooped up a Gibbons fumble and rumbled nine yards for a score to give East Forsyth its first lead of the game. The Eagles carried the lead into the locker room and added to it in the third quarter when Andrew Conrad chipped through a 31-yard field goal to extend their lead to 24-14 with 4:33 to go in the third.
Cardinal Gibbons did not go away quietly, as the Crusaders marched 10 plays and 80 yards capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Harvey to Cameron Noble with just 3:42 to play, but the Eagles managed to hold Gibbons out of field goal range in the final two minutes to seal the victory.
Cardinal Gibbons finished the season 12-3, the Crusaders were 5-1 in the Cap 7 4A Conference where they were the runners-up. The program reached the NCHSAA State Championship game for the first time in school history, winning their first regional final.
East Forsyth wrapped up the year 13-2, the Eagles were 3-2 in the Central Piedmont 4A. East Forsyth won the program’s third Western Regional Championship and collected their third state championship.