Mighty Cyclones were just terrific

Slew Durham, 21-7, in 4-A semifinal battle

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Revenge was oh-so-sweet for the Fike High Cyclones in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A football semifinals on Nov. 22, 1968, as Fike rallied to beat Durham 21-7 just six weeks after the Bulldogs handed the Cyclones a humbling 21-6 loss in a game also played at Durham County Stadium.

While the midseason defeat cost Fike a shot at an unbeaten Eastern 4-A Conference run, the revenge win put the Cyclones in position to win their second of three straight state 4-A titles.

“We wanted this game more than anything else,” senior co-captain Steve Windham told Wilson Daily Times sports editor Cliff Turner. “You might say we ‘out-wanted’ it more than Durham. I’d have to say it’s one of the team’s best efforts. They all played a terrific game. Every one of them.”

The Cyclones (11-2) got a stellar performance from senior quarterback John Wooten, who had a pair of touchdown passes in a 10-of-13 performance for 162 passing yards, and their reliable defense, which held the Bulldogs scoreless after the first quarter. And Windham, who was fantastic in stepping in for star junior tailback Carlester Crumpler, who was held 28 yards on a sore ankle and senior fullback and co-captain Zeke Church, also nursing injuries. Windham led Fike with 50 yards on just seven carries and caught two passes for 19 yards.

Mike Slade, Durham’s star fullback, gave the Bulldogs their first points on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. Fike wouldn’t answer until the second quarter when it took over on its 24-yard line with 6:42 left to play before halftime.

Crumpler ran twice for nine yards and, on third down, Wooten connected with junior Phil Lamm on a 67-yard TD pass. Earl Killebrew kicked the first of his three extra points and the score was tied 7-7 at halftime.

It remained that way until the fourth quarter when Wooten found Larry Barnes on an 8-yard TD pass with exactly 10 minutes to play.

The Fike defense, led by Killebrew, Windham, Lamm, Stuart Walston, Hart Wiggins, Dan Killebrew and Jim Elliott, continued to dominant the Durham offense. With less than two minutes to play, the Cyclones’ effort paid off as 6-foot-3 senior end Kenny Pridgen forced Bulldogs quarterback Tommy Turrentine to pass under heavy pressure. Pridgen got a hand on the pass, batted it around and finally secured the ball and took off on a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown that was the proverbial icing on the cake.

Fike’s win allowed it to play for the state 4-A championship in its Cyclone Country Stadium, where it had never lost, the following weekend against Gastonia Ashley.