Panthers rout Rocky Mount Prep for first playoff win in 12 years

Published 12:06 am Saturday, November 19, 2016

PINETOWN — It was 12 years in the making.

Jackson Midgette scored four touchdowns for Northside. The senior quarterback led the Panthers as they railroaded Rocky Mount Prep, 61-12, for their first postseason win since 2004. With that, Northside moves onto the second round against North Edgecombe, which blanked Columbia, 44-0.

“You can see how excited the kids are. We’re excited for the school and the community,” a Gatorade-soaked Keith Boyd said. “It’s been a long time.”


Chris Slade drew first blood with a 10-yard touchdown run that gave Northside a 7-0 lead with 6:44 left in the first quarter. The hosting Panthers never looked back from there.

The defense made a quick stop on the Jaguars’ ensuing drive. Midgette scampered 32 yards for his first trip to the end zone two plays later, giving Northside a 13-0 lead.

After getting across midfield for the first time, Rocky Mount, facing third-and-15, took to the air, but Tanner Alligood came up with an interception. Big gains by Slade, James Barrow and Midgette put Northside on the doorstep. Mere seconds into the second quarter, Slade punched in his second score from 6 yards out.

A 19-yard touchdown made Tyrece Taylor the third Panther to hit pay dirt, and gave his side a commanding 27-0 lead with 7:14 left until halftime.

“Offensively, we thought we were going to get some chances to get outside on them,” Boyd said. “They actually kind of stacked the outside, so we had to go back to our read game a little bit. When we did that, that gave them some problems.

“Kids made plays. We blocked well, ran the ball hard and ran through tackles. We just put it together tonight.”

Racquel Whitehead erupted for a 65-yard touchdown to put the Jaguars on the board, but Midgette answered with two touchdowns — runs of 43 and 22 yards — on Northside’s next three offensive plays. The result was a 40-6 Northside lead heading into the intermission.

“He’s just so elusive,” Boyd said of Midgette. “If he gets to the second or third level, he’s hard to deal with. We try to keep the ball in his hands. He goes and makes plays for us.”

Rocky Mount was able to put a dent in its deficit early in the second half. The Panthers fumbled the ball away, and Whitehead made them pay with his second score of the evening.

“We had a couple of missed assignments and (Rocky Mount) busted some up the middle. (Whitehead) is a heck of a player,” Boyd said.

Northside bounced right back when Midgette scored his fourth touchdown of the game — this time on a 30-yard run. The defense snapped back, too. Rhys Alligood tipped a pass on the Jaguars’ next possession, and Taylor snared it and returned it for a touchdown.

With a running clock late in the third, Shaheim Brewington came up with another pick for Northside. It set up James Barrow for a 16-yard touchdown that finally put the game away.

“I’m so proud of them,” Boyd said of the seniors in the backfield. “I’m kind of at a loss for words. They’re a great group. I’m going to hate to see them go. We just try to keep trying to prolong this thing — keep practicing, keep playing and hope things bounce our way.”

Northside moves on to face a North Edgecombe team that has lost just one game this season. The Warriors hail from the same conference as Rocky Mount. They ousted the Jaguars, 54-8, in league play this season.

“The teams, as we go along, are going to get better and better,” Boyd said. “I know North Edgecombe is really good, so we’re going to have to go back to work this weekend, get them on film, and try to come up with a game plan to stop them.”