Seahawks earn emotional victory in Fossil Bowl|Neal Whitney, Ayden Jordan honored at halftime

Published 3:55 pm Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sports Editor

CHOCOWINITY — Neal Whitney would have been proud.
The Southside Seahawks get out of the gates in a hurry and never let up, cruising to a dominating 25-0 win over the Pamlico Hurricanes in Friday night’s first Fossil Bowl. Southside’s victory, coming on a night when the team honored former Seahawk star Neal Whitney and Ayden Jordan, the four-month old son of former Southside assistant Jeremy Jones and wife Lindsay Jones, couldn’t have been much sweeter.
Whitney, a 2007 Southside High School graduate and former Seahawk football star, tragically lost his life last Saturday morning.
Ayden Joyner passed away prematurely on Tuesday.
“The biggest part of this win was for the community,” Southside coach David Hines said. “This community has been waiting for something to rally around. They’ve needed something good to happen.
“This was really important for the area. It was important for the players, but even more important for the community. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Whitney’s family members, including Davelle Whitney, a former Southside star himself, went down to the field at halftime. A painting of Neal Whitney in his No. 66 uniform was presented to the family. It was an emotional time as Davelle, wearing his brother’s old No. 66 jersey, comforted his weeping sister, Danielya, during the tribute.
A painting of Ayden was also presented to Jeremy Jones in another moving ceremony.
A large “66” in honor of Whitney, and the initials “AJ” for Ayden Jones are painted on the field. Southside athletic director Sean White said those will remain there for the rest of the season.
White also said that Whitney’s framed jersey will be placed in a hallway at Southside High School.
“We wanted to do something for Neal,” White said. “We thought that was fitting. We’ll put his jersey up in the commons area to memorialize him as a player.
“We’ll keep the 66 and AJ on the field (painted by Southside teacher John Lohman) all season. We just want to let them know that we’re not forgetting them.”
Seahawk senior Willie Ruffin, who hauled in a key 21-yard reception to set up Southside’s final score, then pointed to the sky in honor of Whitney, said the win was important on many levels.
“We needed it for Neal and we needed it for the Joyner family,” said Ruffin, who was close to Whitney. “We played for them tonight. It feels really good.”
Southside (1-2) spread the offense around in compiling 145 yards on the ground. Lonnie Williams led Southside’s rushing attack with 52 yards and a score on 12 carries. His 1-yard plunge in the third quarter capped the scoring.
“We’ve been working really hard in practice and it paid off,” Williams said. “It feels good and it was important to get this win.”
Quarterback Terrill Moore (3 of 10, 49 yards, 1 INT) picked up 42 yards on 10 carries. His 1-yard dive in the first quarter got the Seahawks on the scoreboard. Derick Cannon added 35 yards on 6 totes, while Marcus Oneal added 20 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts.
The defense was solid, holding the Hurricanes (0-3) scoreless and to 140 yards of total offense. Humberto Husband intercepted a pass, while Curtis Myers, James Jones, Johnnie Pender and Cannon had fumble recoveries.
The Seahawks recorded their first shutout since a 21-0 win over Roanoke on Sept. 22, 2006.
“Everybody worked hard for this,” said Jones, who finished with 14 tackles in a beastly effort. “Everybody just pulled together. It was good, but we can play better.”
Jeffrey Moore, Greg Crisp and Sam Jarman, who caused a fumble, all helped Southside record the blanking.
The Hurricanes got close, but their drive to close the first half stalled at the Southside 6-yard line. Pamlico got inside the 10 in the second half, but Husband’s pickoff thwarted that effort.
How does Hines explain it?
“Divine intervention,” Hines said with a shrug. “We’ve put a lot of prayers up over the last week. Who’s to say that the Washington Daily News 2006 Defensive Player of the Year (Whitney) wasn’t looking down on us?”
Cannon got the Seahawks off to a hot start with a 55-yard return on the game’s opening kickoff, setting his team up in prime field position. Williams broke free for a 12-yard run to set up Moore’s 1-yard plunge and a quick 7-0 lead.
Moore hit Ruffin with a clutch 7-yard gain on a fourth-down, and Cannon broke off a 14-yard run to set up Oneal’s 2-yard touchdown dance, giving the Seahawks a 13-0 lead.
Myers made it 19-0 in the second quarter. He scooped up a Pamlico fumble and rumbled 32 yards for the score.
Southside, which returns to action Sept. 18 at Columbia, capped the score on its first possession of the second half. After Jarman jarred the ball loose from a Hurricane runner, Pender pounced on it at the Pamlico 39-yard line. Williams ended the drive by bulling over from a yard out.
“We know we can beat anybody if we play like that,” Ruffin said. “We just have to keep it up.”
Whitney most certainly is smiling.
Pamlico Southside
11 First Downs 12
48-112 Rushes-Yards 44-145
28 Passing Yards 49
9-3-1 Pass-Comp-Int 9-3-1
2-36.0 Punting 3-26.0
5-4 Fumbles-Lost 1-0
6-27 Penalties 8-80
Pamlico 0 0 0 0 — 0
Southside 13 6 6 0 — 25
Scoring Summary
SS – Terrill Moore 1 run (Michael Ward kick), 10:41, 1st
SS – Marcus Oneal 2 run (kick failed), 5:17, 1st
SS – Curtis Myers 32 fumble return (kick blocked), 5:45, 2nd
SS – Lonnie Williams 1 run (kick blocked), 9:06, 3rd