Seahawks erase early deficit to beat Warriors

Published 11:55 pm Friday, November 27, 2015

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS KEY TURNOVERS: A pair of Southside defenders drill North Edgecombe’s Antwoin Pittman, forcing him to fumble. The Seahawks forced two fumbles at key points in the second half.

KEY TURNOVERS: A pair of Southside defenders drill North Edgecombe’s Antwoin Pittman, forcing him to fumble. The Seahawks forced two fumbles at key points in the second half.


CHOCOWINITY — Southside faced an uphill battle early on in its third-round clash with No. 11 North Edgecombe. The Warriors struck first on a five-yard run from all-star running back Antwoin Pittman. The No. 2 Seahawks fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. They paid for the turnover when Bullock Jacoby connected with Dejuan Day for an 11-yard score.

The Seahawks trailed 16-0 before their offense took the field for the first time, but they fought from start to finish to win 36-24. The defense conceded just one more touchdown and shut out the visitors in the second half.

“We just went to the chalkboard and made adjustments. No need to freak out,” said head coach Jeff Carrow. “We knew we were getting the ball back in the second half. We knew we would have to come down and score on that and then get a stop on defense. We did that.”

The defense was lights out in the latter half of the contest. It forced two turnovers in the second half to lend a helping hand to the offense. North Edgecombe was on the doorstep late in the fourth quarter, vying for a touchdown that, ultimately, wouldn’t change the outcome.

The Seahawks were intent on keeping the visitors out of the end zone. Teddy Minor and Hunter Sparks combined to knock the ball loose and Minor recovered, giving their offense the chance to run the clock down and solidify the win.

It was the second time the defense deprived North Edgecombe of a momentum-swinging play. After the Seahawks pulled within four early in the third period, Pittman rumbled down the field for a big gain that would have set up the Warriors well within striking distance. However, he got hit hard and fumbled the ball forward as he went down.

“We’re a second-half team, as we’ve shown all year long,” Carrow said. “Especially defensively. Key turnovers and key points in the ball game. I’m proud of all the coaches, proud of all the fans and proud of all the players.”

Seniors Lawrence Brown and Matt Baxter were chomping at the bit to get on the field. Over nine minutes had expired in the first stanza before the offense was sent out for the first time. The experienced duo gave an immediate spark to the Seahawks. Baxter carried them across midfield. Brown followed up with a 21-yard run into the red zone, which helped set up a five-yard touchdown by Brandon Sullivan.

“Just don’t give up, keep your head up and God is on our back,” Baxter said.

Southside made its first defensive stop on North Edgecombe’s following series. The visitors, facing a fourth-and-17 situation, decided to punt the ball away. Zikajah Crawford batted down the low punt, picked it up and returned it to the two-yard line. Baxter took advantage and scored shortly thereafter.

“Special teams were big tonight,” Carrow said. “Our kickoff team played much better tonight. That knockdown of the punt right there got us in good position when we needed it. It was just an excellent, well-rounded ball game.”

North Edgecombe, set to kickoff to start the second half, created some separation before the break. Mike Sherrod scampered four yards for a score with just 42 seconds left, extending his side’s lead to 24-14.

That was it for Warrior trips to the end zone.

Brown and the Seahawks took over from there. He hit pay dirt on a 24-yard run less than two minutes into the third quarter. He took his talents to the air about seven minutes later when Johnny Sullivan hit him in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

They had one more scoring drive in them. After the defense forced North Edgecombe to turnover on downs, Brown carried his side into the red zone and eventually punched it in from a yard out.

Brown ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He added a dozen yards and another score in the air. Baxter also eclipsed the century mark with 112 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

With this win, Southside punches its ticket to the Eastern Regional Final for the first time in over a decade. The Seahawks will travel to No. 1 Plymouth on Dec. 4.

“I’m very excited,” Brown said. “Being 12-1, (Carrow) told us it’s been 11 years since somebody has been to the regional finals. It’s exciting to be a part of that team that can make it again.”