CARY — After a mostly quiet first half during which Green Hopes Eli Murrane caught just four passes for 12 yards, the senior wide receiver knew he had to come up with a few plays in the second half if the Falcons were going to win.
Two touchdowns and 121 more receiving yards did the trick. Behind Murranes hands and the Falcons defensive effort, Green Hope ground out a 20-16 win over the rival Imps.
I had to turn it on at some point and make some plays, Murrane said. I was losing hope in myself. But I gathered myself back up.
Murrane was particularly shaken after muffing a punt inside his 20-yard line that gave the ball back to the Imps. But the Falcons defense held, and the Imps settled for Jack Longs 29-yard field goal that gave Cary a 10-6 lead.
On the Falcons next possession, Murrane got behind the Imps secondary and hauled in a pass from quarterback Luke Massei, going 63 yards for a 13-10 lead.
Cary regained the lead, 16-13, with 7:23 to play on Isaiah Gibbons 2-yard run.
Green Hope responded on the next drive. Murrane caught passes of 25 and 26 yards on the 63-yard drive, the latter his second touchdown of the night.
While Murrane broke out in the second half, the night belonged mostly to the defenses.
The Falcons held Cary to 109 rushing yards. The Imps entered the night averaging 286. Green Hope also intercepted two passes.
Cary, meanwhile intercepted three passes, including one that Anthony Rush tipped at the line and returned 38 yards for a touchdown that gave the Imps a 7-6 lead early in the third quarter. Twice in the first quarter, Carys defense turned away the Falcons when they started with the ball inside the Imps 40-yard line. Not only did the Imps keep the Falcons from scoring, they didnt allow Green Hope a first down on either possession.
But once Murrane and the Falcons demonstrated their ability to strike quickly, it was up to the teams defense to step up.
(Carys) bigger than us, Green Hope coach Kwame Dixon said. We had to be ferocious in our attack. ... Hats off to my kids. They had to overcome some size disadvantages, and they never quit.