Turnovers plague Northside in loss to Pamlico County

Published 11:10 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS ON THE RUN: Running back James Barrow barrels his way through the Pamlico County front seven during Friday night’s loss to the Hurricanes. Barrow finished with a team-high 89 yards rushing on 14 carries.

ON THE RUN: Running back James Barrow barrels his way through the Pamlico County front seven during Friday night’s loss to the Hurricanes. Barrow finished with a team-high 89 yards rushing on 14 carries.

PINETOWN — A holding penalty and a fumble with less than 30 seconds remaining terminated Northside’s game-winning drive and lifted Pamlico County to a 21-16 victory on Friday night at Bing Mitchell Stadium, a crushing blow for a Panthers team desperately seeking a win.

Positioned on the Hurricanes’ 13-yard line with 43 seconds left in the contest and no timeouts, scat back Chris Slade hooked to the outside, broke three tackles and powered his way into the end zone, but a holding call by the umpire erased the score and backed the Panthers up 10 yards. Filling in for a limping Jackson Midgette, backup quarterback Matthew Marslender fought his way to the 8-yard line. A fumble on the next play, however, ended what would have been an 82-yard game-winning drive for Northside.

“People say this and people say that, but that group of kids, every game we’ve played all year long they fight until the end,” Northside head coach Keith Boyd said after the game. “I can’t be prouder of them and we keep getting better, but we still do the little things that kill us. It’s laying it on the ground.”

The critical fumble was one of four Panthers’ turnovers through four quarters, each blunder recovered by the Hurricanes. But the visitors certainly had turnover problems of their own, recording two fumbles and an interception in the endzone (picked off by Parker Boyd on the first drive of the game), while also drawing a handful crucial penalties that continuously backed them out of the red zone.

“We have to play better and score when we’re in the red zone,” a frustrated Pamlico County head coach Torrey Nowell said after the win. “We had too many opportunities in the red zone and we gave them too many chances. We have to get better doing what we do.”

For Pamlico County, the plan was to attack Northside’s undersized and injury-plagued front seven. Tailback Jacobie Simmons ran for a season-high 175 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown, while quarterback Josiah Simmons also had a productive night offensively, completing 7-of-13 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

With a host of injuries in key positions, Northside’s defense held its own after allowing 44 points to Southside a week ago. But it was the offense that continued to struggle, recording just 254 yards of total offense. Running back James Barrow tallied 89 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and following a tough game against the rival Seahawks, quarterback Jackson Midgette avoided sacks and completed 4-of-6 passes, all thrown on the run.

But Midgette’s signature moment came on the final series of the game, facing a 4th-and-7 on Northside’s own 18-yard line. The junior quarterback scrambled, spun, broke two tackles and just reached the first down marker to extend the drive.

“Jackson went back to being the quarterback we saw the first couple of weeks in the season,” Boyd said. “We played some really good teams recently and our pass protection hasn’t been great. He’s gotten beaten up a little bit. We had better pass protection tonight and he kept his eyes down field. That was a big fourth-down pickup he made down the sideline or we wouldn’t of even had an opportunity to win.”

Tallying six of the scoring drive’s eight running plays, Jacobie Simmons broke the scoreless deadlock with 8:47 left in the second quarter on a 3-yard run up the gut. On the ensuing Pamlico County series, Josiah Simmons found Lamont Murray on a screen pass and the senior receiver turned the short-yardage play into a dynamic 68-yard touchdown run.

With 4:03 remaining in the half, Northside pieced together seven-straight runs, the last being a 3-yard quarterback sneak from Midgette, as Pamlico County led 14-8 at the half.

In the third quarter, Northside took the lead after yet another elongated, run-heavy drive centered around Barrow, who capped it off with an 8-yard scamper. Josiah Simmons answered on the next drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Barron.

With the win, Pamlico County improves to 3-4 (1-1 Coastal Plains) and will face Lejeune (0-7, 0-2 CPC) in Bayboro next week. The Panthers have now dropped six in a row heading into their matchup with Jones Senior (4-4, 1-1 CPC).