Fike onslaught ends Jackets' season
Lee County held a 26-6 lead over Fike in Friday night's NCHSAA 3AA first-round state playoff game before the Golden Demons (11-1) scored the game's last 35 points, including 28 in what was a disastrous four-minute span of the third quarter for the home side, for a 41-26 win.
Lee County junior Jerry Pullum scored all four Yellow Jacket touchdowns, with the fourth being a 53-yard touchdown run a snap after Nolan Groce's interception gave the Jackets the ball. Lee County (9-3) led 26-6 with 5:14 left in the third period.
Fike moved down the field on three plays, the third being A.J. Hines going down the left sideline for a 42-yard touchdown run. John Nguyen blocked the Demon extra point leaving the Jackets ahead 26-12.
The Demons, in the state playoffs a season after going 2-9, really picked up the momentum on the following Jacket series when Ian West intercepted Duane' Bland's long pass over the middle and returned it 45 yards down to the Lee County 20.
Two snaps later, Hines carried in again on a 3-yard run and the Demons cut the Jacket lead to 26-19.
Hines, also a linebacker for Fike, intercepted a Bland screen pass intended for Pullum and returned it 28 yards to the Lee 3. Anthony Evans, who did most of the work in the Demon offense on the night, scored on a 3-yard run and Fike had tied the game.
The next Jacket possession ended in a punt and Groce's punt, from out of the Jacket end zone, was blocked and the Demons recovered for a touchdown.
Fike had so much momentum going, that even a botched extra-point snap turned into a completed pass for a two-point play and Fike had scored 28 points in the last 4:17 left the third quarter to take a 34-26 lead to the fourth quarter.
The Yellow Jacket offense couldn't get back on track. Lee County's defense, which forced five turnovers on the night, stopped a Demon run on 4th-and-inches at the Fike 46 with 6:50 remaining. The ensuing Jacket possession was stopped on downs four plays later.
The Demons effectively sealed the game a couple plays later when quarterback D.J. Daniels kept the ball around the left side and raced 65 yards for a touchdown.
Lee County lost two fumbles in the opening period but the Jacket defense recovered two fumbles and stopped a Fike 4th-and-1 play, with Thomas Ferguson getting into the backfield to bring down a running play, at the Jacket 28-yard line.
The Yellow Jackets marched 73 yards, led by Pullum as a rusher and a receiver, to tie the game late in the half. On a 3rd-and-5 at the Fike 8, Bland rolled out to the right and hit Pullum in the end zone for the touchdown.
Getting the ball back with 1:46 left in the half, the Jackets scored with Bland passing to Pullum, on a quick pass to Pullum lined up as a wideout, and Pullum going 48 yards for a touchdown.
The Jackets marched 65 yards in 10 plays to start the second half. Facing a 3rd-and-9 near midfield, Bland connected with John Nguyen deep down the hashes for a 32-yard play. Pullum powered into the end zone on a 3-yard run.
The next Demon possession ended quickly on Groce's interception and Pullum's touchdown made for a 20-point lead.
The Yellow Jackets lost five turnovers on the night. Bland was 12-for-28 passing for 155 yards, three interceptions and two touchdowns. Pullum rushed 26 times for 125 yards and caught five passes for 77 yards.
Evans led Fike with 24 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown.