Statistics by Dicky Adcock
The Kinston Bulldogs etched their names in the record book Friday night as they set a school record for wins in a season and earned the right to host a playoff game for the first time ever in a heart-stopping 21-20 overtime win over the Samson Tigers, in Samson.
Kinston turned back a Samson scoring threat on the game’s initial offensive series after the Tigers had marched to a first down at the Bulldog 11-yardline behind the running of Braxton Brooks and Joshua Lowery, and the Bulldog defense did it again on Samson’s second series, this time after the Tigers had the ball first and goal at the Kinston 8-yardline.
The third time proved to be the charm for the Tigers; however, as Samson took advantage of a short Bulldog punt and went 26 yards in eight plays to get on the scoreboard. A 19-yard pass from Braxton Brooks to Garrett White was a key play in the scoring drive, while the touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Konner Owens. Owens also added the two-point conversion, and with 5:28 remaining in the second quarter the Tigers were on top 8-0
Kinston had an answer for the Samson score on its ensuing possession as the Bulldogs went 60 yards in eight plays to reach the endzone. Cale Sumblin completed five of six passes for 62 yards to highlight the scoring drive, with Blake Senn pulling in three passes for 55 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown toss on fourth down. A two-point pass missed its target, but with 1:29 left in the half the Bulldogs were within 8-6 in the important region matchup.
Both region rivals were forced to punt on their initial possessions of the third quarter, but the Samson defense came up with a big play on the Bulldogs second series and extended its lead to 14-6 when Brodey Mixon picked off a Kinston pass and returned the interception 30 yards for a Tiger touchdown with 6:40 left in the quarter.
Kinston could get nothing going offensively on its next two series, but got a break early in the fourth quarter when the Samson punter mishandled a snap to put the Bulldogs in business at the Tigers five-yardline. The Bulldogs cashed in the short field when Jeb Crosby scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down and goal, and when Cale Sumblin passed to Reece Hall for the two-point conversion Kinston had pulled even at 14-14 with 7:19 remaining on the clock.
Kinston dodged another Samson bullet when Jeb Crosby recovered a Tiger fumble at the Bulldog 33-yardline midway through the quarter, while a quarterback sack by the Bulldogs John Free on the game’s final possession turned back the Tigers from the Kinston 28-yardline and helped send the game into overtime.
Samson put the ball in play first in the extra period and reached the endzone when Joshua Lowery scored on a 1-yard run, but failed to add the extra point as the Tigers regained the lead at 20-14.
Kinston quickly moved to the Samson 5-yardline after a penalty on first down, and scored on its next snap when Jeb Crosby raced to the corner of the endzone. John Free tacked on the extra point to ignite the Bulldog celebration as Kinston claimed the wild 21-20 road win.