KNIGHTDALE — Rarely does a football game feature two goal-line stands that result in 99-yard scoring drives, and it’s not every day a second-year football organization wins a bowl game.
Both occurred simultaneously on Nov. 9, as the Knightdale Dragons’ Golden Junior Pee Wees defeated the North Raleigh Bulldogs Red team 20-12 in the 2013 Triangle Classic Bowl.
The bowl game venue at N.C. Central University played host to teams from the Triangle, Charlotte, Wilmington, Havelock, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Virginia and South Carolina.
The Dragons sealed the win over the Bulldogs with big plays on both sides of the ball in the final eight minutes of the game.
Jacob Gill completed the second of the 99-yard drives when he took a sweep to the left, cut back toward the Dragons sideline, picked up a trio of blocks and rolled into the end zone on a 60-yard run that punctuating scoring in the game.
North Raleigh’s final possession was cut short when Knightdale’s Marques Roper intercepted a corner route pass, allowing the Dragons to set up in victory formation.
The teams traded scoring possessions after starting the second half with Knightdale on top, 8-6.
The Dragons got solid field position on the kickoff and drove 40 yards before L.J. Lennon scored from inches out on a quarterback sneak to go up 14-6. The Bulldogs answered on the ensuing drive, converting a fourth-and-9 corner route pass to cut the deficit to 2 points.
Knightdale fumbled on its next possession and North Raleigh threatened to make it count by driving as far as the 6 inch line of the Dragons. The Knightdale defense then stopped a quarterback sneak to set up the big drive capped by Gill.
North Raleigh used its size advantage on the game’s opening drive and rode its power-I formation with counters and sweeps to the Dragons’ one yard line. But on fourth and goal, also from a matter of inches out, the Dragons defense showed grit and forced a turnover on downs.
It was then that Knightdale got its first 99-yard scoring drive and took an 8-0 lead on an extra-point kick by Lennon.
The drive consisted of multiple passes to Gill, Roper, Dax Hardy and Ollie Allen; and wildcat runs out of the spread, sweeps out of power-I and option reads out of the pistol by Lennon, Allen, Gill, Danny Parker, Jamal Applewhite and Jalen Applewhite.
North Raleigh scored on the next possession, helped by a 30-yard corner route completion on third and 12, to set up the 2-point halftime deficit.
Dragons head coach Kelly Fox credited a long list of players for outstanding blocking and defense in the game and throughout the season.
Those players included: Nate Albertson, Allen, Jalen Applewhite, Jamal Applewhite, Will Blake, A.J. Burr, Gill, Cam Evans, Will Fox, John Hagen, Hardy, Wesley Heaton, Dylan Hilliard, Khi Holliman, Baker Lee, Lennon, Jax Masterson, Conner McCloud, Jeff O’Brien, Parker, Jackson Pate, Codey Pierce, Roper, Caeleb Steele, Takoda Valles and Mark Wall.
Fox was assisted in coaching by Corbin Hardy, Mike McCloud, Curtis Askew and Dwayne Pierce.
The Junior Pee Wee team consists of 9- and 10-year-old players up to 105 pounds and 11-year-olds up to 85 pounds.
They are part of the 180 youths on seven football teams and two cheerleading teams in the Knightdale Dragons Pop Warner Football and Cheer program.