Published: Oct 27, 2012 12:00 AM
Modified: Oct 26, 2012 11:49 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Colby Owens rumbled eight yards off tackle to score the game-winning touchdown with 46 seconds left Friday at Wildcat Stadium, lifting East Chapel Hill to a 27-20 win over Person County and into the state 4A playoffs for the first time ever.
In just his second high school start, freshman quarterback Connor Stough ran for two touchdowns and hit Will Buckley with a 39-yard strike for another score as East Chapel Hill improved to 5-5 overall, 3-3 in the Piedmont Athletic Conference.
Person (3-8, 3-3 PAC) fell to East for the second straight year despite Trevon Tapp's touchdown passes of 31 and 43 yards to Marquis Torain and Tapp's 11-yard keeper that tied the game at 20-20 with 12:13 left in the game.
Person got into Wildcat territory on its next possession, but Patrick Nanry killed the drive with his interception at East's 38-yard line and a return to the Rockets' 43 with 3:34 left to play.
East Chapel Hill used 11 plays on its winning drive — including Stough's 9-yard pass to Buckley to convert a 4th-and-4 at the Rockets' 36. Owens capped the drive with his counter-run over two would-be tacklers into the end zone. Ellis Llewellyn's point-after kick made it a 27-20 lead.
East's Ian Levin recovered a Rocket fumble at East's 37 with 5 seconds remaining to kill Person's last chance.
The Wildcats have ventured into football's post-season only twice before in the program's 15-year history, the last time in 2003, and never since joining the NCHSAA's 4A classification.