Southside overcomes shaky start to beat Gates County, moves to 4-0

Published 12:04 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Given the easy manner in which Southside won its first three games of the season, facing some adversity was inevitable.

The Seahawks overcame an early 14-point deficit and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half en route to a 40-29 victory over Gates County on Friday to improve to 4-0.

But after two shutout wins and a decisive victory over Dixon, this one didn’t come as easily.

“If we’re going to be a championship team and where we want to be, then they’re going to have to answer calls,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow said. “You’re going to face adversity. You have to answer it.”

Trailing 17-14, Southside took the second-half kickoff down the field, going 72 yards in eight plays, capped by an 8-yard touchdown run by Jamison Bennett. Trajan Rhome added the conversion run to stake the Seahawks to their first lead of the game.

Gates County went three-and-out — Southside defensive lineman Teddrion Minor knifed through the middle to throw the Red Barons’ Ron Olsen for a 4-yard loss on the first play to set the tone — and the Seahawks went back to work offensively. Keyed by a 33-yard catch by Demitrius Ebron, Bennett finished off another march with a 3-yard dive.

The Seahawks recovered the ensuing onside kick, and scored again, this time a run by Hayden Mayo from 12 yards out to put Southside ahead 34-17.

Gates County countered with a touchdown, only for Mayo to sprint into the end zone up the middle from 33 yards out on the ensuing drive to keep the Red Barons at arm’s length.

The formula that propelled Southside to early-season success — turnovers and big plays — was turned against the Seahawks early.

Gates County opened the scoring on a 59-yard touchdown by Olsen less than four minutes in. Mayo was stripped on a dive play inside the Red Barons 5, and Jordan Robinson hauled in a 56-yard scoring strike from quarterback Jawan Riddick four plays later to go ahead by 14.

“We came out flat,” Carrow said. “We weren’t mentally focused for the ball game. That’s on us as coaches.”

Southside got to work early in the second quarter. A 5-yard touchdown by Rhome and run conversion by Amari Peele cut the Seahawks’ deficit to six. After getting the ball back from Gates County on downs, Ebron capped an 11-play drive with a leaping catch in the back of the end zone over tight coverage to knot the game at 14.

The Red Barons got the ball back with 2:07 left in the first half. Gates County drove deep into Southside territory, but was forced to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Caleb Brickhouse for a 17-14 halftime advantage.

“They had the lead at halftime, but it was a big deal to hold them to three, knowing that we were able to move the ball consistently,” Carrow said.

Bennett and Mayo rushed for a pair of touchdowns apiece for Southside. The Seahawks rolled up 413 yards on the ground, as Mayo had 120 and Peele added 115.

Olsen finished with a game-high 148 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries for Gates County.

Southside will remain at home the next two weeks. North Duplin is scheduled to come to Chocowinity for the Seahawks’ final non-conference matchup before hosting Tarboro in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference opener Sept. 22.