Gurley wins MVP, State Title

RALEIGH, N.C. --- Todd Gurley capped his high school football career Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium with a four-touchdown performance in the NCHSAA 2A State Championship Game to win the game's MVP and deliver Tarboro its third consecutive title, 39-36, over Lincolnton.

"He's okay," joked Tarboro head football coach Jeff Craddock. "… As you saw, this kid is going to be a phenomenal talent at the next level – there's no question."

With 3:12 left in the game, Gurley scored from 12 yards out to give Tarboro a 39-36 victory over Lincolnton in a back-and-forth contest.

"It was like two championship boxers going at it in the final rounds," Craddock said. "It was big play after big play, and nobody wanting to give an inch."

Gurley also had touchdown runs of 14, 58, and 31 yards, totaling 242 yards on 21 carries.

"I've probably had some good games, but because it's my last game, it was my best and we got the win," Gurley said. "It was special because it was my last high school game and I'll never play with these guys again. We're not all going to the same college."

Gurley also started at defensive end where he had eight tackles, including two for a loss and eight solo.

"We moved him to defensive end [during the season], a position he's never played before," Craddock said. "I said, ‘Todd, I think this is what's best for the team.' He said, ‘Coach, I'll do it. I'll do the best that I can.' Never a complaint and it obviously made our team a lot better."

Gurley rarely left the field, despite playing with a nagging ankle injury.

"A game like this, you just have to play through [the pain]," Gurley said.

"I felt bad for Todd, because he's a competitor and with the ankle injury, he just wasn't his self," Craddock said. "It was frustrating to him and frustrating to his teammates."

Almost as important as his performance was Gurley's leadership, which was definitely on display during Lincolnton's final offensive drive of the game with Tarboro needing a stop to seal the victory.

"I told the team, ‘If ya'll don't stop this, ya'll are going to remember this loss,'" Gurley said. "[The stop] came at the right time and we came out with the win."

Recruiting-wise, Gurley has narrowed his focus to four schools – Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina, NC State. He has unofficially visited all four schools and has taken official trips to all but UNC.

"I'd probably take [the UNC official visit] after they know who the head coach will be," Gurley said.

Gurley, who doesn't claim a leader, said the uncertainty surrounding UNC hasn't harmed the Tar Heels' chances.

Keith Marshall, whom Gurley has developed a friendship with through the recruiting process, is making his collegiate decision this coming week. Gurley says that although they talk about recruiting, Marshall's decision won't affect him.

"We talk about what we like about schools and what we don't – just pros and cons," Gurley said.

Todd Gurley Profile

Inside Carolina Top Stories