Cleveland pulled away from visiting Lee County for a 38-16 win in the second round of the NCHSAA 3-AA football playoffs on Friday night in a matchup of 8-0 teams.
The Yellow Jackets led 10-7 early in the third quarter after Will Patterson passed to T.J. Johnson for a 47-yard touchdown.
The Rams answered with a scoring pass play from Skyler Locklear to Nick Roccia that covered 34 yards and the hosts led the rest of the way.
Locklear completed 23 of 31 passes for 306 yards with one score and one interception. He had 16 keepers for 33 yards and a TD.
Amir Johnson scored Cleveland’s first touchdown from three yards out and the Rams led 7-3 at the half. Johnson had 15 carries for 69 yards and two TDs.
“We cut out turnovers in the red zone and were more productive in the second half,” said Cleveland coach Scott Riley.
Freshman Cameron Goins added 54 yards rushing on 10 carries as the hosts had 482 yards of total offense.
Roccia had four catches for 115 yards. Jashawn Middleton had seven catches for 74 yards.
Keyshawn Monk, Hunter Morris and Trey Robinson had nine tackles each in the win. Robinson had three sacks. Steven Elliott, Isaac Piatek and K.D. Harrison had interceptions.
Robinson returned a fumble 13 yards for Cleveland’s last TD.
The Rams, champions of the Greater Neuse 3-A Conference and the No. 1 seed in the East, will host league foe Clayton (8-1) on Friday night for the regional championship. The Comets, seeded seventh, won, 27-16, at West Brunswick on Friday night.
Clayton’s only loss came on March 26 at Cleveland, 34-27.
“It’s a big rivalry,” Riley said. “But this week, it’s more about getting to the state championship. It should be an interesting dynamic.”