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East Bladen High SchoolLatta rallied for a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final seconds to pull out an 8-7 victory over East Bladen in the Battle for the Carolinas football scrimmage at Lumberton Thursday night.

The Vikings converted a fourth down and nine situation for the touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Colby Lee to Tyreik McAllister with 25 seconds left to play. Lee then found McAllister in the left flat, and he worked his way into the end zone for the conversion.

Until that final drive in the closing minutes, the Eagle defense had kept the Vikings at bay. “The defense played good,” said East Bladen Coach Robby Priest. “But we came here to win, and it didn’t happen.”

Sophomore Xavia McDowell and senior Chris Cromartie sacked Lee to stop an early Latta possession.

The Eagles had some problems moving the ball at the beginning of the game and switched back from the spread to their old offense on their second possession.

On the first play of the third East Bladen possession, junior Eian Hines started right, pulled out of a tackle near the sideline, darted through traffic back towards the middle of the field and scooted 80 yards for an Eagle touchdown. Senior Jesus Ramos booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Two plays later, junior Derrick Burney recovered a Viking fumble at the Latta 28 yard line, but an intentional grounding penalty pushed East Bladen back to the 43. Ethan Hines dashed 17 yards around left end on fourth down, but came up just short of the sticks as the half ended.

Lee competed a couple of passes that moved the Vikings inside the Eagle 40 early in the second half, but junior Kyle Tatum batted down a fourth down pass near the 20 yard line to halt the drive.

The Eagles responded with their best drive of the second half as Eian Hines raced 14 yards to the East Bladen 49, and Ethan Hines sprinted 30 yards to the Latta 29.

After an incomplete pass sailed out-of-bounds near the goal line, Eian Hines picked up 9 yards to the Viking 20. However a procedure penalty bogged down the drive, and the Eagles were stopped on downs at the 27.

“We had our chances,” said Coach Priest. “An overthrown pass near the goal line, penalties…We’ve got to get it in sync. The offense has to get better.“

The Vikings intercepted a pass with three minutes left to set up the decisive touchdown drive.

Eian Hines led the Eagles with 106 yards rushing and a touchdown on 8 carries. Ethan Hines carried 8 times for 61 yards.

The Eagles open regular season play next Friday at South Columbus.

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