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PRINCETON — Aiming for their first appearance in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A football playoffs since 2014, the Princeton Bulldogs instead saw their unbeaten season come to an end Friday with a 56-46 home loss to Riverside Martin.
The Carolina Conference champion and 1-A East Region No. 2-seeded Bulldogs, who tied a school record with nine straight wins, finished 9-1. The No. 7 Knights, who finished third in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference behind Tarboro and Pamlico, will take a 10-3 mark into their third-round matchup Friday at No. 3 Edenton Holmes.
Riverside Martin stung Princeton with consecutive touchdowns late in the first quarter to take a 20-8 lead. John Lockamy’s 7-yard TD run and two-point run put the Bulldogs ahead 8-7 briefly. A Bulldogs fumble led to the Knights’ third TD.
Lamarr Wilkins’ 1-yard TD run and Tyler Whitley’s two-point run just before halftime cut Riverside Martin’s lead to 28-16 going into the break.
The home crowd roared to life when Wilkins darted 76 yards to the end zone to bring the Bulldogs within 28-22 in the opening minute of the third quarter. Princeton stayed close on a pair of Wilkins 3-yard scoring runs and conversion runs by Wilkins and Lockamy in the third.
Princeton had the ball early in the fourth quarter, trailing 42-38, but was forced to punt. Nakwon Burns peeled off a 37-yard TD run and the Knights added another score for a 56-38 lead.
Wilkins had one more TD run, a 53-yarder, to give him five for the game.