CHAPEL HILL — After three straight weeks of nearly upsetting the Carolina-8 Conference's top three teams, Chapel Hill was not going to let Cedar Ridge pull off that trick on the Tigers in their final home game.
With the score at 21-21 late in the fourth quarter Friday at chilly Culton-Peerman Stadium, Logan Tisch gave Chapel Hill the lead for good by sacking Cedar Ridge sophomore quarterback Peyton Pappas in the end zone for a safety.
Chapel Hill (4-7, 3-4 Big-8) followed that with an 8-play, 34-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard pass from Grant Deselm to Aaron Hirsch for a touchdown. That all but sealed the Tigers' 30-28 win that kept alive their hopes for a playoff spot.
"We've played well enough down the stretch to get a look for the playoffs. You need four wins to qualify, and that's what we've done, but nothing is guaranteed" Chapel Hill head coach Issac Marsh said. "We'll keep our fingers crossed. If my toes weren't frozen, I'd cross them, too."
Over the previous three weeks, Chapel Hill was tied with or within a touchdown of playoff-bound Orange, Cardinal Gibbons and Northwood. Few people expected Cedar Ridge (2-9, 2-5 Big-8) to challenge the Tigers on their home turf.
Cedar Ridge trailed 14-0 in the first half, but fought back to tie the game twice. When the Red Wolves stymied a 61-yard drive by Chapel Hill with a goal-line stand at their own 1-yard with 7:27 to play, they seemed to have the momentum.
But on the next play, the 6-3, 300-pound Tisch knifed between the guard and center and dragged Pappas down as he tried to roll away from the pressure.
"You look to guys like Logan Tisch to come up with the big plays when they matter, and that's exactly what he did," Marsh said.
After Hirsch put CHHS up 30-21 with 3:22 left, Pappas drove Cedar Ridge 66 yards with five straight passes, the last a 28-yard strike to Julius Walton, to get the Wolves back within 2 points. But Chapel Hill's Jammond Obie fell on their ensuing onsides kick and the Tigers ran out the last 46 seconds.
Pappas earlier threw touchdown passes of 89 and 16 yards to Chris McCoy, sandwiched around a 5-yard touchdown run by Julius Walton. Those scores helped Cedar Ridge tie the score at 14-14 and 21-21.
Chapel Hill sophomore Ricki McDowell opened the scoring with a 17-yard burst, and Brandon Wendell powered in Chapel Hill touchdowns on runs of 10 and 3 runs. Deselms 3-yard pass to Hirsch with 3:22 left in the game put Chapel Hill up 30-21.
In other games involving local teams Friday night,, East Chapel Hill finished its season with a 14-7 win at Durham Jordan, previously undefeated and No. 7-ranked Orange fell 55-41 at Southern Durham, Northwood lost to Cardinal Gibbons 55-14, and Carrboro fell 49-6 to state-championship contender Reidsville.
See www.newsobserver.com and Wednesdays Chapel Hill News for more about all area games.