WAKE FOREST -- Wake Forest-Rolesville’s best player on Friday night made sure to take in the moment. Amid all the cheers and joy that surrounded him, Marcus Jones stayed quiet.
On one knee, Jones watched everyone – his teammates, the students, and the entire coaching staff – rejoice over his best play of the game: A five-yard touchdown run in overtime that gave the Cougars a 20-14 win over second-ranked Leesville Road.
The victory in the final week of the season allowed the seventh-ranked Cougars (9-1, 5-2 Cap Eight 4-A) to share the conference championship with Leesville Road (9-2, 5-1). Wakefield (8-2, 5-1) also won a share of the title.
But what elevated the celebration was how Jones found a way into the end zone.
After defensive lineman Chinedu Onuoha recovered a fumble in overtime, the Cougars three plays later faced with a third-and-goal from the Pride’s 5-yard line. With starting running back James Harris taken out for having wind knocked out of him, James took the initiative.
“I said, ‘Coach [Reggie Lucas] I’m going to get it in,’” Jones said. “For him to give me the ball in the championship game means a lot.”
Lucas didn’t hesitate in giving to trust Jones.
“That’s the type of player he is,” Lucas said. “He hadn’t let us down yet, so when Marcus asks for it, we’re going to give him what he wants.”
Jones received the ball on a sweep to the right. Leesville Road though had four defenders between Jones and the end zone. Jones said he didn’t want the Cougars to attempt a field goal on fourth down.
So, with all his power, Jones put his head down and kept his pumping his legs until the side judge raised both of his arms to signal touchdown.
“I didn’t care if they hit me in the backfield,” Jones said. “I knew I was going to get in.”
With Jones in the end zone, everyone on WF-R’s bench – including the once-injured James – ran onto the field. Jones, on the other hand, was still lying on his back after scoring.
“I know he says I’m a pit-bull, but he’s a pit-bull,” James said of Jones’ effort. “It was so exciting to watch that, and he makes plays all the time.”
As it turns out, Jones made two crucial plays prior to his game-winning score. Early in the fourth quarter, Jones blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Chris Lehman. On the Pride’s next possession, Jones deflected a pass in the end zone on fourth down that was intended for receiver Austin Berrios, who had caught two touchdowns earlier.
“I think it was purely because I wanted it more,” Jones said of his deflection. “I had let up a touchdown earlier, and that was my way of getting it back. That’s the biggest play all year for us.”