Panthers rebound in 50-20 clobbering of Columbia

Published 11:10 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

COLUMBIA — Northside’s offense mustered only 12 points last week against North Duplin. This week at Columbia, the Panthers scored in all three phases of the game to coast to a 50-20 win.

WATCH: Northside coach Keith Boyd weighs in on the win

Tyree Blount got the ball rolling and kept the momentum flowing all game. In an outing where the Panthers’ coaching staff was looking for its star players to rise to the occasion, they just got that from Blount, Johnathan Clark, Matthew Marslender and others.

“We had to go back to the drawing board a little bit. We were trying to be a little bit too fancy,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said. “We had to simplify some things because we have so many guys up front that just didn’t know what things meant.

“… It’s big for them to boost their confidence. Now they can become more vocal leaders and more leaders based on their performance. Kids look up to them when they see them do good things. They’re our guys. We’ve got to lean on them.”

After Northside’s defense forced Columbia three-and-out on the opening drive, Blount powered his way through the Wildcat defense for an immediate 20-yard gain. He capped off a 70-yard, four-minute drive with a 7-yard touchdown and the 2-point conversion, giving the Panthers an 8-0 lead.

An interception on the next series gave Northside a short field to work with. Marslender cashed in shortly thereafter when he scampered in on a quarterback draw.

The hosting Wildcats began to pass the ball despite drizzling rain making it tougher to get a hand on the ball. Their third drive eventually stalled and they turned it over on downs. However, Columbia found its rhythm in the air in the second half. Even though it got on the board with a 62-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter, Northside went into the intermission with a 36-8 stranglehold on the game.

The Panthers saw Perquimans sling the ball around the field in Week 1. Even though their defensive backs gave up chunks of yardage to the Wildcats, Boyd isn’t concerned with the state of his secondary.

“We got some things to work on, but we were also trying to slot some kids in,” he said. “We didn’t play with the starting defense all night long in the second half. We’re giving these guys, and they were going to make mistakes. We knew that. We were going to give up a few touchdowns. That’s why we have a comfortable lead to try and slot them in there and get them some experience.”

Early in the second, Marslender again found success on a draw play, this time scoring from 32 yards out. Raydarius Freeman and Tyrek Brown combined for a sack to derail a driving Columbia offense. Zakkai Wilson and Clark helped carry the Panthers down to the goal line, where Blount punched in his second touchdown with 1:38 left in the half.

Northside had no trouble scoring again after receiving the second-half kickoff. It started near midfield. Two Columbia penalties gifted them 25 yards before Freeman made it 43-8 by muscling through tackles to hit pay dirt from 23 yards away.

The Wildcats responded quickly, but Northside also had an answer for that. Clark took the ensuing kickoff coast-to-coast for another touchdown. Columbia continued moving the ball through the air to get in scoring position, cutting the deficit down to 50-20, but the combination of injuries and Northside’s insurmountable lead led to the two teams agreeing to conclude the game with 6:20 left.

An all-around strong performance puts Northside back in the win column and gives it momentum heading into next week’s showdown with Beaufort County rival Washington.