MURPHY, NC (WRCB) -- Gaige Cox scored five touchdowns and host Murphy overcame the soggy conditions to run away from Albemarle in a 53-21 in the NCHSAA Class 1A state semifinals.
The Bulldogs claimed their fourth consecutive 1A Western Region title to advance to face Plymouth in next week's state final in Raleigh. Plymouth scored in the final minutes for a 20-15 win a year ago, denying the Bulldogs of a second straight state title and an eighth overall.
Cox finished with 290 yards on 26 carries, while Kenton Braswell added 248 yards and two more scores.
It took awhile for both sides to find their footing as a downpour hit just before kickoff, but the Bulldogs were eventually able to break through. After a scoreless first quarter, Braswell finally cracked the scoreboard with a 26-yard run, then Cox followed with his first two of the night for a 19-7 lead at the break.
Cox scored two more times in the third, including a 63-yard jaunt, as Murphy extended its advantage to 33-7 after three. The lead grew to 47-7 before a flurry of activity in the final five minutes. Albemarle scored twice in 90 seconds against the Bulldogs' reserves, so coach David Gentry sent his starters back out in hopes of running out the clock.
Instead Cox broke free and ran for an 88-yard score to provide the final margin of victory.
Murphy is 1-2 in the state championship game the past three years, splitting their first two matchups with Wallace Rose-Hill. The Bulldogs claimed the 1A title in 2011, their first since 1996 and the fifth overall under Gentry.
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