The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association's Division II semifinal showdown between the dynamic yet contrasting offenses of Davidson Day and Harrells defied non-PlayStation football logic and provided defensive coaches with lengthy to-do lists.
The teams combined for 184 points, 59 first downs and 1,624 yards of offense as Davidson Day pulled out a 104-80 victory to advance to Friday's state final against Christ School.
Davidson Day quarterback Will Grier, a highly regarded junior being recruited by Florida, Tennessee, Oregon and North Carolina, among others, completed 35-of-42 passes for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also ran for two scores.
The game, held at Hopewell High because Davidson Day does not have a home field, lasted three hours and 40 minutes, longer than most college and NFL games with commercial breaks.
Davidson Day led 54-36 — at the half.
"We knew it'd be high scoring, but we didn't expect this," said Grier. "The scoreboard doesn't have three digits for a reason. This doesn't happen very often."
The game included 26 scoring plays. Davidson Day (10-2) scored on every possession but one. Harrells (9-3) scored on 12 of 16 possessions.
Davidson Day coach Chad Grier, Will's father, was almost speechless after the game. Few times, he said, does a team have to surpass the century mark to feel comfortable with a lead.
"I didn't ever expect to score 104 points in a football game and never expected to give up 80," he said.
Will Grier's top targets were Jordan Brown (13 catches, 302 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Aaron Seward (6 catches, 221 yards, 3 touchdowns). Seward caught a 99-yard touchdown pass in the first half, while Brown did most of his damage on crafty shovel pass plays Harrells could not figure out.
Grier also hit Mike Stevens for three scores and threw one each to Jordan Young and Glen Coates.
Among the other highlights, the Patriots scored on a 50-yard hook-and-ladder play on the final play of the first half and also took advantage of a fortunate bounce in the second quarter after Coates was stripped of the ball at the Harrells 7-yard line.
Young scooped up the fumble in stride and scored.
But the pass-happy Patriots, who totaled 934 yards, were matched at almost every turn by Harrells, which did its damage on the ground in the Wing-T offense.
Russell Washington had his own big night, leading the Crusaders with 429 yards and eight scores on 46 carries.
"The kid broke tackles," said Chad Grier. "We'd be there at the point of attack and have him stopped."
The game did not feature what could be called a normal kickoff. There were squibs, pooches, onside and short angled kicks all night. Only one was recovered by the kicking team.
The 7:30 p.m. game concluded at 11:10, and Chad Grier tried his best to address his tired team and put into words what they'd all just experienced.
"It doesn't sound real," he said. "The (Charlotte) Bobcats don't score 104."
Will Grier's passing yardage surpassed the National Federation of High School (NFHS) mark held by David Koral of California's Pacific Palisades High. Koral threw for 764 yards in a win during the 2000 season.
Grier's 10 touchdowns matched that of Koral and five others, most recently Orlando Lake Nora's Tucker Israel, who threw for 10 scores in a game last October. Grier's touchdown total is also the most in state history.
Grier now has 5,294 passing yards this season, surpassing the 5,193-yard mark held by former Independence High quarterback Chris Leak, who played collegiately at the University of Florida.
Grier's 64 touchdown passes this season tied Leak's 2002 effort for second on the N.C. list, two behind that of former Independence signal caller Joe Cox in 2004.
Cox played at the University of Georgia.
Grier needs 36 completions to match Leak's state mark for completions in a season.
On to the final
Davidson Day travels to Asheville Friday to try to win its second straight NCISAA title. Last year, the Patriots won the Division III crown, but the program moved up to Division II this season. So there's a chance to repeat — sort of.
"It's time to do what we did last year," said Brown.
The Patriots will meet Christ School (12-0) at 6 p.m. The Greenies play a hard-nosed brand of football, and are led by quarterback Christian Jewkes (1,435 yards, 22 touchdowns) and running back Charles Beale (1,508 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns).
Chad Grier sees the game as a matchup of Davidson Day's speed and athleticism and Christ School's size and strength. He said his team thought it was deserving of the No. 1 seed in the eight-team playoff bracket, but Christ School was seeded first and Davidson Day second.
"Hopefully," said Chad Grier, "we'll go up with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove."