CARY — Before a raucous homecoming crowd, Cary turned two fourth-quarter turnovers into two touchdowns to rally past Apex 27-15 Friday night at Cooper Field.
The Imps (3-4, 1-2 Southwest Wake 4A) trailed 15-14 with 8:05 remaining after Cougars running back Tim Darcelien ran 33 yards for his second touchdown.
But Cary forced a fumble that led to one score, and senior Scott Kinsey intercepted an Apex pass with 2:19 remaining to seal the victory.
"It's a huge game," said Kinsey, the starting quarterback and linebacker. "We were coming off a four-game losing streak. It was good for the school. We really needed it to boost our morale. The whole school, the whole community came out tonight and supported us. That's what it came down to at the end, love of the community and the school."
Isaiah Gibbons, who ran for 117 yards, capped the scoring with a 4-yard run with 29 seconds remaining. Cary's students tried to rush the field to celebrate, but authorities kept them at bay.
Apex (2-6, 1-4) had its offense in gear in the first quarter, driving 79 yards in nine plays and scoring on Darcelien's 4-yard run for a 7-0 lead. After Cary's Julio Lopez was tackled in the end zone on the final play of the first, the Cougars led 9-0.
"We had them on the ropes, moving down the field," Apex coach Joe Kilby said. "We scored early and did exactly what we said we had to do all week. We had them backed up, but we let them chip their way back in the game. Then the mistakes got us and bit us."
After Darcelien's second score, Apex forced a three-and-out. But on its next play, quarterback Ian Boyd fumbled after a 10-yard run, with Cary's Andrew Grena recovering at the Cougars’ 42-yard-line.
Four plays later, Trevion Hackney ran 23 yards for his second touchdown to give the Imps a 20-15 lead with 3:51 remaining.
Kinsey then picked off Grayson Boyd's pass.
"To be able to seal the deal for the school and the team and get a win like that was awesome," Kinsey said.
The game was part of the Great American Rivalry Series, and Hackney was awarded the most valuable player trophy. But Cary's defense was equally impressive, as the Imps generated three second-half turnovers.
"We can't do that and win a game," Kilby said. "I'm proud of my kids. They certainly battled at times, and we looked like the team we can be. We just had some breakdowns, and we'll deal with that."