The Grimsley Whirlies defense put up a strong performance and held the visiting Mooresville Blue Devils to just seven points in the second round of the NCHSAA 4-A West Playoffs on Friday in Greensboro.
With a boost from their defense, the Whirlies offense began to roll, and the Whirlies were victorious by the score of 27-7.
In the first quarter both teams were struggling offensively when the Whirlies defense began to show its dominance over the Blue Devils. With 3:28 to play in the quarter, Sincere Burnette intercepted Mooresville’s Sean Hill for a pick-six, and the Whirlies led, 7-0.
Grimsley Head Coach Darryl Brown felt the score by the defense was a tone-setter.
“That was huge for us,” Brown said of the pick-six. “We were struggling offensively. Getting a defensive score is always big.”
After the touchdown, the Grimsley defense was firing on all cylinders, and held Mooresville scoreless for the remainder of the first half.
The Whirlies were still struggling to get things going offensively, however.
It wasn’t until the half-way point of the third quarter that Grimsley would score again. Senior Cam Wall ran 12-yards for the touchdown to put his team ahead 14-0.
Grimsley’s second touchdown was crucial, it came on the second drive of the second half. On the first, Chris Zellous fumbled in Mooresville territory and the Blue Devils recovered. The Whirlies’ defense stepped up and held Mooresville to three-and-out after the turnover, and that put the Whirlies in the position for their second touchdown, and what would be the game-winning score.
Following the Grimsley score, two Blue Devils players collided attempting to receive the kick, and Grimsley recovered.
The miscue on special teams proved to be critical for Mooresville, as the team allowed another Whirlies touchdown.
The Whirlies ran the ball with ease after the turnover by Mooresville and the drive was punctuated with a four-yard touchdown pass from Zellous to Jaquavion Mayo. The extra point attempt failed, but Grimsley led 20-0.
The Blue Devils scored their only touchdown of the game on their ensuing drive. Hill connected with Jackson link to move the Blue Devils into Grimsley territory, and he found Treymin Jackson open in the end zone from 15 yards out to put Mooresville on the board.
The Whirlies had one score left in them.
The Whirlies Quan Nora broke through a hole from 25-yards out with 1:48 to play in the game for the final score.
The win is the first playoff win for the Whirlies in over a decade and something head coach Darryl Brown is rightly proud of.
“This is great for our team, obviously, our school, and our community,” Brown said.
“I thought we played outstanding on defense. They are a really good football team that scored fifty points last week and averaged more than thirty points a game in the regular season. I thought defensively we played really sound. Our secondary did a really good job playing man-coverage on their receivers. We played really sound defense tonight.”
Brown credited his team’s hard work and buy-in mindset for getting them this far.
“This team stayed focused and worked harder after starting the season (1-3) and really bought in to what we were telling them. The reason I think we’ve had success is how hard this team plays.”
Grimsley quarterback Chris Zellous talked about how hard work and playing a tough schedule contributed to getting the Whirlies to the third round.
“The work started in the winter with speed drills,” Zellous said.
“The guys worked really hard during those, and then we had some adversity and played a tough schedule early. That really helped get us to where we are now.”
There is no doubt that the Whirlies played hard Friday night. They advance to the third round of the NCHSAA 4-A West Playoffs and will travel to Kernersville next Friday to take on an undefeated East Forsyth team who won their second round game against Glenn 42-6.
(G) Sincere Burnette 25 interception return (Will Caviness kick)
(G) Cam Wall 12 run (Caviness kick)
(G) Jaquavion Mayo 4 pass from Chris Zellous (Kick failed)
(M) Treymin Jackson 19 pass from Sean Hill (Isaac Riffle kick)
(G) Quan Nora 25 run (Caviness kick)
Chris Zellous: (6-15) 46yds, TD
Cam Wall: 9 car, 35yds, TD; 4rec, 42yds
Quan Nora: 23 car 109yds, TD
Jaquavion Mayo: 1 rec, 4yds, TD