Southside wins defensive standoff to move on

Published 11:46 pm Friday, November 18, 2016

CHOCOWINITY — It was a low-scoring defensive standoff in Chocowinity this Friday as the Southside Seahawks stuffed the South Creek Cougars, 8-0, to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Southside came into the game off two big blowout wins — scoring over 50 in both victories. While South Creek came into the game on a two-game losing streak and had lost five of its last six, the Cougars were 2-9 on the season. Seahawks coach Jeff Carrow stressed to his team record didn’t matter, and neither did their win against the Cougars eight weeks ago.

“We were able to jump on them early in the season, but we knew great teams, playoffs, things change,” Carrow said. “Everybody is 0-0. You got to win each ball game every Friday night.”

It was a much tighter affair than the 41-16 game eight weeks ago. It was truly a playoff atmosphere as the crowd packed and cheered loudly, despite the chilly 50-degree weather.

On the field, it was a slugfest as both teams stayed on the ground. Southside finished with 194 yards on the ground and South Creek finished with 81. There were only seven passes between the two teams.

The game was played in the trenches and ultimately the Seahawks won because of a 24-yard touchdown run by junior fullback Brandon Sullivan in the first quarter. Sullivan finished with 12 carries for 56 yards and his touchdown.

“Whatever back, whatever the defense gives us, that’s what we’re going to take,” Carrow said.

After Zikajah Crawford’s successful two-point conversion, he finished the game with 11 carries for 43 yards. Crawford’s score would be the last of the game, though.

“We knew that this was going to be a tight ballgame one way or another,” Carrow said. “We knew South Creek was a well coached team … and it’s playoffs. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Instead of points, the crowd was treated to hard hits and defensive battles. Any time either team would get a player through a hole, he would be swallowed up by a swarm of defenders. The defensive play led to neither team being able to establish anything.

“We didn’t move the ball very well,” Carrow said. “The defense stepped up big time. Caused turnovers, forced fumbles, right when we needed, hats off to the defense tonight. (They) played their tail off.”

The Seahawks forced four turnovers, all in the second half. With about six minutes left in the fourth, the Seahawks fumbled and lost the ball at the 40-yard line — their only turnover on the night.

The very next play, Southside forced Tyrek Bynum to fumble.

Bynum is the Cougars’ best player, but tonight he was shutdown by the Seahawks’ swarming defense, which kept him bottled up and held him to 24 yards on 17 carries — an abysmal 1.4 yards per touch. Bynum averaged 7.9 YPC and 86.6 yards per game throughout the season.

After the fumble, Southside forced two interceptions as the Cougars desperately tried to score with time running out.

As Southside took a knee and the crowd celebrated, the big picture was not lost on Carrow. He knew he had to prepare his team for a playoff game next week.

“Regroup, prepare and see who we got next week and start to game plan,” Carrow said.