No. 1 seeded Tarboro completed step two in its journey towards another state championship. It came with a very impressive performance from senior running back Radja Bobbitt as he put the team on his back and rushed for 248 yards on 24 attempts and scored four touchdowns to lead the Vikings to a 33-7 victory in the second round of the NCHSAA 1-AA state playoffs.
"Our line did a great job blocking up front for us," Bobbitt said. "I was able to make plays to help us get a win and move on to the next round."
The win improves Tarboro's playoff record to 25-2 in the last six seasons during the playoffs.
The next round comes with a tougher task when the Vikings host No. 2 seed Wallace Rose Hill in the third round of the playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.
Tarboro Coach Jeff Craddock was pleased with what he saw overall from his team, minus the fumbles and penalties. Tarboro was called for six penalties with the majority of them being false starts on the offense.
"I thought we should have put them away in the second quarter but we didn't, because we had some careless penalties called on us," Craddock said. "We kept playing hard though and got the win."
Tarboro scored on their first two possessions and then on their last two possessions before halftime where they were held to field goals instead of touchdowns, which is something Tarboro isn't used to settling for.
"It's nice to have the field goal unit to be able to go out there and convert them," Craddock said. "I would like to put touchdowns on the board instead."
Tarboro's defense was superb again despite giving up one score. They held Camden County to just 154 total yards of offense and basically shut them down after they scored in the second quarter on a six-yard pass play. This is the seventh consecutive game that the Vikings defense held their opponents near the 150-yard mark and it was the closest game Tarboro has had in that time frame also.
"Playoff wins are hard to come by," Craddock said. "We are pleased with our win in the second round, but sometimes we try to outthink ourselves just a little bit. Turnovers, dropping the ball and false start penalties and things like that come back and get you."
Tarboro has had trouble holding onto the ball and fumbled twice, but they were able to regain possession and continue their drives.
"We are coming off the ball to early," Bobbitt said. "We have to listen to the coaches and stay on the ball like we have worked on in practice."
Tarboro scored on their first two possessions where they put eight play drives together both times.
The first drive covered 54 yards and was capped off by a Bobbitt five-yard TD run. Franklin Arias converted the extra point to give Tarboro the 7-0 lead.
The Vikings defense forced Camden County to punt on their ensuing possession and the offense took advantage of the defense's hard work. This drive was capped off on a four-yard TD run by Bobbitt. The extra point try failed and Tarboro led 13-0.
The Bruins took the ensuing drive and used 13 plays to cover 65 yards when they scored on a Noah Tuttle TD pass to Micahel Hill to cut the Vikings lead to 13-7.
On Tarboro's final two possessions of the half they had to rely on Arias to get them points, because the offense was unable to move the ball like they had on their first two possessions. Arias kicked a 36-yard field goal with 6:27 left before halftime to give the Vikings a 16-7 lead. Then with 1.5 seconds left before halftime, Tarboro called a timeout two plays after having a false start called against them inside the 20-yard line. Arias was called upon again in the timeout to get them some more points where he converted this time from 41 yards out to put Tarboro up 19-7 at the half.
In the second half it didn't take Tarboro long to get on the scoreboard. On the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, Bobbitt took the handoff and sprinted up the right sideline for 70 yards and scored his third TD of the game. Arias added the extra point and Tarboro led 26-7.
The next two Viking possessions weren't what Craddock expected to see. Both times, the offensive drive was stalled and they were forced to punt, because of a false start and then they decided to go to the Wildcat offense and that fell apart when players acted like they didn't know where they were supposed to be on the field.
"Mistakes happen and I can handle that," Craddock said. "When we are false starting during this time of the season it isn't what we do. We are better fundamentally then those types of mistakes."
After the two punts, Tarboro got back into their basic offensive flow and scored on their next possession when Bobbitt punched it in from one-yard out to give Tarboro the 33-7 win.
Tarboro has won seven straight games and are in a familiar place heading into the third round. For them to be successful Friday, they are going to have to clean up a lot of miscues and take care of the football.
"The players have to fix these problems," Craddock said. "We as a staff have done everything we know to do to get them to where they need to be. Players are running from mistakes and we work on every mistake we make, but the players have to step up and fix it."