East Hoke falls just short in Middle School football title game

Eagles see potential game-winning pass broken up at buzzer

East Hoke’s Davon Bronson runs the ball up the middle. Bronson had 34 yards rushing and scored a two-point conversion, while adding a tackle for loss. (PJ Ward-Brown/North State Journal)

East Hoke Middle School came within inches of winning the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference (SEMSAC) championship game at Richmond High School’s Raider Stadium in Rockingham last week.

The Eagles had the ball inside the 10-yard line with two seconds left. However, a potential game-winning pass was broken up at the three by the Rockingham defense to clinch a 20-16 win and send East Hoke home disappointed, despite a season for the ages.

East Hoke was seeking its first middle school title since 2015 and entered the game undefeated, as did the Rockingham Middle Rockets, who hadn’t won since 2014.

The Eagles actually had more yards and first downs in the game, but some bad breaks went against East Hoke.

A bad snap on a punt following the game’s first possession gave Rockingham a short field, leading to the game’s first touchdown and an early East Hoke deficit. Penalties on kickoffs gave the Eagles a long field, and trouble stopping Rockingham on third and fourth down kept the East Hoke offense off the field.

Peyton Price led the way for East Hoke with 112 rushing yards and two scores. He also returned kicks and threw a pass to help the Eagles move the ball.

Quarterback Mah’Rod Wood only completed one pass, a 22-yarder to the 10 that set up the final play of the game, but he managed the East Hoke running game and added six carries of his own, including a two-point conversion that gave the Eagles their only lead of the day.