Southside wins defensive showdown over Northside

Published 11:52 pm Friday, September 4, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS GOOD EFFORT: Scat back Chris Slade breaks up the sideline and stiff arms a defender in the first quarter of Friday’s game versus Southside.

GOOD EFFORT: Scat back Chris Slade breaks up the sideline and stiff arms a defender in the first quarter of Friday’s game versus Southside.

PINETOWN — Northside embraced its underdog label in Friday night’s rivalry game against Southside, frustrating the normally dynamic Seahawk offense by forcing stalemates and defensive stops in the red zone. But the visiting front seven remained poised under pressure, as Southside contained the opposing running game and escaped Pinetown with a gritty 22-8 victory.

“Coach Boyd did an excellent job game planning and had his team fired up,” said Southside head coach Jeff Carrow. “Every time we get together it doesn’t matter what the records are. He had his guys pumped up and hats off to him.”

Despite Southside’s inconsistency on offense, it was another notable performance from senior running back Lawrence Brown, who rushed for 106 yards on five carries. Brown’s compliment in the wing-T offense, fullback Dylan Lewis, notched 93 yards on 11 carries before an injury early in the third quarter sidelined him for the remainder of the contest. At wingback, Matt Baxter finished with 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Despite recording just 215 yards of total offense, Northside certainly had its chances over the course of 48 minutes. Take away a pair of dropped balls in the red zone, a missed field goal and a fumble in the second quarter and the end result may have very well favored the host.

“I was very proud of the defensive performance,” said head coach Keith Boyd after the game. “And really, to tell you the truth, I don’t know how many yards we had, but you take two dropped passes and we get the two extra points, we win that game. I thought we moved the ball very well at times up and down the field.”

Quarterback Jackson Midgette, who has added a new dynamic to the Panthers’ offense this season, completed 7-of-14 passes for 134 yards. The Seahawks defense, however, continued its success against the run, limiting running back James Barrow to just 56 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.

In what Boyd considered to be the drive of the game, Northside possessed the ball for nearly all of the first quarter, a single drive that spanned close to nine minutes and consisted of 16 plays. The series ended in a missed field goal, but set the tone for the rest of the contest.

Southside finished the first quarter with two big runs from Brown and Lewis and the duo struck again early in the second. Brown broke free for a 50-yard run when play resumed, tiptoeing the sideline, and Lewis punched it in for a three-yard run up the middle.

After a fumble on the ensuing possession, an 18-yard pickup from Baxter, an 8-yard run from Brown and a 4-yard shuffle from Baxter put Southside up 14-0.

After 11 minutes of scoreless play, the Seahawks found the end zone again with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter, but it would come at a cost. Following a 23-yard run from Brown, Lewis attempted to swing to the outside and was hit near the sideline. Play was stopped and Lewis, who spent the second half of last season nursing a lower body injury, walked off the field under his own power. On the next play, Baxter found a seam up the middle and cut to the right for a touchdown, putting the Seahawks up 22-0.

“(Lewis) is a tough, hard runner right there and we need to get everybody playing with the same toughness,” Carrow said of his fullback. “We need to spread the ball around better. You can’t run a wing-T with just one back. You have to be able to mix it around and other guys need to step up.”

The Panthers’ defense would hold the Seahawks scoreless through the final 20 minutes and attempt to narrow the deficit on offense.

With under a minute left in the third quarter, Northside setting up in the red zone, Midgette aired out a ball to the back corner of the end zone on fourth down, a pass that was dropped by the receiver, ending another lengthy drive without a score.

Finally, with 2:54 remaining in the game, Barrow barreled his way through the defensive line for a score, but the Panthers would run out of clock, despite successfully recovering an onside kick after the touchdown.

Southside finished with 311 yards of total offense on 40 plays, stymied by 60 yards worth of penalty yardage (seven flags). The defense, however, forced three turnovers and finished with three sacks. Despite the loss, Northside controlled possession for 34 minutes, an impressive feat against a run-heavy opponent.

With the win, the Seahawks improve to 3-0 and will host Riverside on Friday, while the Panthers drop to 2-1 heading into next week’s matchup against South Creek in Robersonville.

“I expect another grinder next week,” Carrow said. “Coach (Asim) McGill does an excellent job. They’re going to be a spread offense and we have to prepare for that. They’re big across the line as always. We just have to play our game and it’ll be a heck of a ballgame.”