Seahawks defense stands tall in 39-12 third-round win

Published 12:20 am Saturday, December 3, 2016

CHOCOWINITY — Northampton County took just three plays to draw first blood on Friday, then quickly capitalized on an interception thrown by Southside quarterback Marshall Medlock. The Seahawks found themselves down 12-0 less than four minutes into the game, but pitched a shutout from there to win 39-12.

Down two scores with 8:03 left in the opening period, Kyle Hill converted a third-and-6. Zikijah Crawford and Brandon Sullivan carried their side right to the doorstep, and Medlock was able to push through for a short touchdown.

The touchdown was an important response, but even more vital was the defense taking the field with purpose. After the offense cut the deficit to six points, the defense forced a quick fumble.

“It’s a momentum game,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow said. “The team came out, fired up, ready to play. I can’t express how proud I am of my guys for answering that call right there. They didn’t hang their heads.”

Despite giving up a pair of quick scores, Southside’s defense held the Jaguars to 232 yards of total offense. They converted just 2-of-13 third downs, and were 2-of-8 on fourth down.

A 42-yard gain by Crawford put Sullivan within striking distance. He punched it in from three yards out to knot the game at 12 apiece with 2:38 left in the first.

“I’m extremely proud, not only of our defense, but of our offensive line,” Carrow said. “They stepped up. They’ve come together in the past few weeks and really played some great ball for those backs.”

Medlock was picked off again early in the second, but the defense didn’t let the Jaguars exchange the turnover for points. Damion Bond and Josh Keyes combined for a first-down stop behind the line of scrimmage, which helped to force a turnover on downs.

Crawford, who had a game-best 241 rushing yards, used a 29-yard run to get the ball down the field quickly. Brandon Sullivan scurried 28 yards into the end zone shortly thereafter. His second touchdown of the evening proved to be the game winner.

“We got our jet going. We were able to go outside and we were able to go both sides with it, which was key,” Carrow said. “They were stiff inside, so we knew we had our edge. We had great edge blocking by our backs.”

The offense didn’t get much of a break, though, as Northampton coughed up the ball during the ensuing kickoff. Hill ripped off a run to the Jaguar 10, and Crawford scampered for a 4-yard score shortly after.

Southside, leading 26-12 at halftime, was set to receive the ball to open the third. It appeared Northampton’s defense would finally force the Seahawks to sputter, but Crawford shredded through the Jaguars to convert on a fourth-and-25. They were 2-of-3 on fourth-down attempts.

It brought the Seahawks down to the 2. Hill took the handoff from Medlock, ran to his right, and cut inside for the short touchdown. Sullivan’s point-after kick was good, and Southside took a commanding 33-12 lead with 5:43 left in the third.

On top of the score, the drive chewed up 6:17 of the clock. As Southside recovered from Northampton’s early strikes, its offense handled the ball for 27:04 to help keep the Jaguars at bay.

The Seahawks laid the knockout blow when Hill trotted down to the 1 to set up Trajan Rhome for the final touchdown. Hunter Sparks nabbed an interception — the third Northampton turnover of the game — to put it away.

The table is now set for a regional-championship rematch at Plymouth next week. The defending state champion Vikings defeated North Edgecombe, 21-8, to advance.

“We worry about us. We don’t worry about the opponent,” Carrow said. “Nothing changes. Since Aug. 1, we’re going to sit there and scout, we’re going to be prepared and we’re going to play Seahawks ball.”