Noah Rogers was determined to keep things close for Rolesville in Saturday’s NCHSAA 4AA football state final. The Rams’ 6-foot-3 sophomore made his presence known to opponent Vance High School, and to all Carter-Finley Stadium patrons before halftime.
Rogers’ 62 yards kickoff return 8:28 before the break preceded his 23-yard reception from quarterback Byrum Brown that put Rolesville at the Cougars’ five yard line. Brown and Rogers connected for a six-yard completion and touchdown that gave Rolesville a 14-13 lead, its first — and only — of the game.
Earlier, in the first quarter, Rogers had corralled Brown’s 13-yard pass in the end zone’s left corner to put the Rams on the scoreboard and knot the score at seven.
But Rogers’ efforts were not enough on this night. Vance added a touchdown in that second quarter courtesy of running back Daylan Smothers to retake the lead for good, and the penalties that plagued the Cougars dissipated as the game went along, allowing them to better control the tenor of the contest to pull away for a 35-14 win.
Vance — in its final academic year before the school’s name changes to Julius Chambers — earned its second straight state title.
Rolesville’s comeback hopes took a substantial blow before the third quarter’s 6-minute mark. Brown, who had to be helped off the field for a second consecutive week late in the first half, was hit again for a loss on a third down deep in his own end, setting up a fourth-and-19 at the Rams’ 12-yard line. They punted the ball away trailing by 13.
Asauni Allen accounted for Vance’s final two touchdowns, including a 27-yard reception from quarterback Austin Grier with 1:38 left in the third. Allen’s 43-yard end zone scamper with 3:03 to go in the third preceded Smother’s two-point conversion to cement the final score.
Grier was named the game’s MVP, and had two first half touchdown passes, one each to Armon Wright (59 yards, 9:58 left in first quarter) and Kevin Concepcion (14 yards, 8:29 before halftime).
Rolesville managed just 67 yards of total offense to Vance’s 531. The Rams netted four total yards among the third and fourth quarters.
Jacorrey Bible paced the Rams’ defense with a game high 17 tackles (12 solo).