RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — For a while, it appeared the Class 2-A state high school football championship was becoming a one-man show. In the end, it was the Shelby Lions who roared the loudest.
A big third quarter enabled Shelby to pull away and beat Wallace-Rose Hill 55-34 on Saturday in the NC High School Athletic Association 2-A title game at Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of NC State in Raleigh. Shelby’s third-quarter efforts came after Wallace-Rose Hill senior running back Kanye Roberts scored four touchodwns in the first half and ended up turning a close game into a dominant second half for the Lions.
Roberts, a 5-foot-11 running back who is heading to Appalachian State to play football, finished the game with five touchdowns, including a 20-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. Roberts finished his senior season with 58 touchdowns, which put him second all-time in NCHSAA history for single-season points.
Shelby (12-4) has now won 12 state titles and its first since 2019, when the Lions won six championships from a span of 2013-2019. Shelby is now 12-4 in state title games.
Wallace-Rose Hill, making its 11th state title appearance and winners of seven championships overall, ended its season at 13-3, including 7-4 in state title games.
Earlier in the week, it was unclear whether Saturday’s game would even be played. COVID-19 cases were found among members of the Wallace-Rose Hill team. At the time, the NCHSAA said it did not have plans to postpone the game. Fortunately, rapid testing of the team on Friday found just one case, and the Bulldogs were cleared to play.
That was a good thing because Roberts came ready to play. He had scoring runs of 56, 2, 27 and 35 in the first half as Shelby held a 28-27 lead. WRH missed the extra point on Roberts’ fourth touchdown, which came with 15 seconds left in the half.
However, Shelby responded with a 52-yard run by Izay Bridges to end the half and stun the Bulldogs, who trailed 34-27 at the half.
Roberts’ first touchdown came just two minutes into the game and set that stage for what would be an offensive shootout of sorts in the first half. It was a different story in the second half, however, as Shelby held the Bulldogs scoreless in the third quarter while pulling away from a tight contest with two touchdowns for a 48-27 lead heading into the fourth.
That pretty much put the game out of reach for WRH.
After Roberts’ first touchdown of the game, Shelby answered with a screen pass to Bridges to tie the game at 7-7. Shelby quarterback Daylin Lee found Demetrius Thompson for a touchdown pass, his 10th of the season, to give the Lions a 14-7 lead before Roberts’ second touchdown tied it at 14-14.
Roberts’ third touchdown gave the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead before Shelby answered with a 3-yard run by Marquis Adams and a TD pass from Lee to Ja’Keith Hamilton to give Shelby a 28-21 lead with 1:29 left in the half.
Wallace-Rose Hill entered Saturday’s game on a six-game win streak that began after falling to county rival East Duplin on Oct. 22. A win over East Duplin, the No. 1 seed in the Class 2-A East Region, in the third round of the state playoffs was included in that win streak.
Shelby closed the season with 12 straight victories after falling to South Carolina power South Pointe on Sept. 10.