Northside fends off North Duplin in fourth quarter

Published 11:49 pm Friday, August 28, 2015

JOHN CATE | MOUNT OLIVE TRIBUNE TURN ON THE BURNERS: Junior running back Tyrece Taylor breaks down the sideline in the first quarter of Northside’s win over Dixon on Friday.

TURN ON THE BURNERS: Junior running back Tyrece Taylor breaks down the sideline in the first quarter of Northside’s win over Dixon on Friday.

Mount Olive Tribune


CALYPSO — Northside quarterback Jackson Midgette didn’t hear head coach Keith Boyd screaming at him on a crucial third-down play during the Panthers’ game Friday night at North Duplin.

You won’t hear Boyd complaining, though.

Midgette connected with wideout Chris Slade on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 2:14 left to play, giving the Panthers some breathing room in what, moments later, ended as a 20-12 victory.

Northside was clinging to a 14-12 advantage after stopping the Rebels (0-2) on a two-point conversion try on the previous series, following a touchdown that could have tied the game.

The Panthers’ Zachary Griffin covered the ensuing onside kick, but North Duplin still had two time-outs remaining. Its defense sold out to stop the run on the first two plays of Northside’s drive. On third-and-5 from the Rebels’ 45, the coach had seen enough.

“They were just loading up, blitzing us,” said Boyd, “and we tried to show something on the backside there with some motion.”

In layman’s terms, the call was for Midgette to roll to his right on a bootleg, with an option to run or pass. As the play developed, it appeared that the junior signal-caller could probably run for the first down, and Boyd yelled for him to take that option.

“I was screaming ‘tuck it and run,’” he said, “but (Midgette) kept his eyes down the field and made a good throw and Chris Slade made a great catch.”

While still behind the line of scrimmage, Midgette rifled a near-perfect pass downfield to Slade, who had gotten behind the Rebels’ defense inside the 10-yard line. He snagged the ball and made it into the end zone. North Duplin kept the Panthers out of the end zone on the conversion try to stay within one score at 20-12, but its odds of a comeback had diminished greatly.

“Our motion man got behind their safety and the quarterback made a heck of a throw,” said Boyd. “That was the play of the game.”

Needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to force overtime, the Rebels drove to the Northside 29 in the final minute before losing the ball on downs. It was the fifth time that North Duplin had entered Panther territory and come up empty, including a pair of possessions where it had reached the Northside 10.

“I don’t know why we weren’t stopping them between the 20s, but it seemed like every time they got inside the 20 or even inside the 10, we decided to buck up and come off the ball,” said Boyd. “We’ve got to have that kind of enthusiasm when the ball is out near the middle of the field, but I was pleased with our resiliency and finding a way to get it done.”

The first half was an old-school slugging match that ended with the Panthers holding a 6-0 lead. The Rebels opened the game by reaching the Northside 20, but lost the ball on a fumble. The Panthers wasted little time in driving 80 yards to paydirt on a two-yard run by James Barrow with 8:18 left in the opening quarter. A 33-yard pass reception by Slade on the previous play set up the score.

North Duplin got the better of things over the remainder of the first half, getting to the Northside 10 on each of its next two drives, but lost the ball on downs the first time and then fumbled it away on the second, when Barrow pounced on an errant center exchange with about three minutes left before intermission.

The Rebels finally tied the game with 3:40 left in the third quarter after a drive that consumed nearly seven minutes of clock before J.P. Payton scored from six yards out. The score remained deadlocked when the hosts misfired on their two-point conversion try.

Barrow was the star of the ensuing series, taking the ball to a first-and-goal at the North Duplin 6 as time ran out on the third quarter. He blasted off left end on the first play of the final period for the score, and then Cashmir Blount ran for two points and a 14-6 Panther lead.

After each team had an unsuccessful series, the Rebels drove 77 yards in just over three minutes to scored on a four-yard run by Mora with 2:42 remaining. Northside stopped him inches short of the goal line on the ensuing conversion try to hang on to a 14-12 advantage.

The Panthers, who entered the season with low expectations after losing 16 seniors from last year’s 1-A state playoff team, improved to 2-0 with the victory.

“I think everybody in the state is surprised that we’re 2-0 at this point,” said Boyd.

They’ll return home this week and try to make it 3-0 in a date with county rival Southside.