Swain rallies past Redhawks, 28-21
Monroe High took a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but Swain County responded by scoring 28 points before the half and held on for a 28-21 home win that will give the Maroon Devils a chance to repeat as 1AA state champs.
Swain County (15-0) has now won 27 games in a row, including last year's N.C. crown, and has a 30-1 record since the start of the 2011 season.
The Redhawks (11-4) scored three touchdowns in a span of 4:05 in the second quarter by taking advantage of two turnovers, but turned the ball over three times and allowed 28 points in the final five minutes of the first half.
After a scoreless first quarter, the two teams combined for 49 points in the second period.
Neither team scored after halftime. The Redhawks lost star QB Quayshawn Chambers to a separated shoulder in the third quarter. Chambers has committed to Duke.
The Redhawks threatened in the final two minutes, driving down to the Swain County 20, but fumbled the ball away on fourth down.
Early in the second quarter, Monroe took a 7-0 lead by scoring on its second possession of the game.
Junior fullback Julius Stradford finished off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter. The drive was kept alive by a pass interference penalty on a third-and-18 that gave Monroe the ball at the Maroon Devils' 12.
Monroe got the ball right back by recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Swain County 20.
After a penalty on the first play, senior Lavonte Baker caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Chambers that put the Redhawks ahead 14-0 with 10:28 still to play in the second quarter.
The Maroon Devils committed their second turnover of the second quarter when Monroe senior safety Jermany Hammonds intercepted his 10th pass of the season and returned it down to the Swain County 27. Hammonds, who also plays receiver, put his team ahead 21-0 by catching a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chambers on fourth down with 7:08 to play in the second period.
Swain took advantage of two fumbled kickoffs to score 28 points in a span of 4:21. Matt Manley's 22-yard interception return for a touchdown proved to be in the difference, giving the Maroon Devils a 28-21 lead with 34 seconds left in the first half.