Northside edges Southside in Anchor Bowl

Published 10:35 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Matthew Marslender dismantled Southside’s last chance at a comeback when he broke up a fourth-down shot over the middle. The senior defensive back then assumed his duties as Northside’s quarterback, lining the team up in the victory formation to run out the clock for a 16-12 win in the Anchor Bowl.

Marslender and the rest of the Panther seniors weren’t Northside students the last time the trophy resided in Pinetown. Northside claimed it in 2013 in a 46-38 shootout win over the Seahawks, but Southside reclaimed it the following season and has had it ever since.

PHOTOS: Anchor Bowl

“We’re starting to feel like we can play behind our defense now,” Northside coach Keith Boyd said. “We get two or three touchdowns on the board. We’re starting to show a lot of resilience on defense.

“We’ve had a whole bunch of ball games like this this year. We might lose by four. Now we’re winning by four. We stayed the course.”

WATCH: Post-game interviews with Northside coach Keith Boyd and Southside coach Jeff Carrow

Resiliency was the name of the game. One team would score. The other would answer. The difference proved to be Northside’s red-zone defense versus Southside’s execution in scoring range.

The Seahawks, set to receive the kickoff to begin the third quarter, had a chance to score late in the first half, but Tanner Alligood came up with a last-second interception in the end zone.

Southside found itself in striking distance after quarterback Will Warren nailed tight end Hunter Tyler for a 41-yard gain down to Northside’s 3-yard line. The Panthers completed the goal-line stand as Cameron Cahoon made the fourth-down stop that forced a turnover on downs.

“I think that was the stand of the game. They were down inside the 10,” Boyd said. “That was probably the turning point of the game. They would probably go up by two scores. I think they got a little flat.”

Southside coach Jeff Carrow added: “We didn’t execute. I think it was more about us. Again, nothing against Northside. They had a great game plan. … We didn’t execute what we were supposed to do.”

The Seahawks’ defense forced Northside three-and-out on its first series in the second half. They got the ball just 24 yards from the end zone and were able to capitalize this time around. Trajan Rhome, who led all players with 112 rushing yards, ran down to the 6. Warren was looking to throw, but rolled out to his right and was scampered in for the touchdown.

Cahoon and Johnathan Clark then helped piece together the game-winning drive. After a 12-yard pickup by Clark, Cahoon moved the chains and positioned the Panthers in the red zone. He scurried seven yards into the end zone shortly after. Clark ran for the conversion, giving Northside a 16-12 lead with 11:25 left in the game.

Southside had its chances to go back ahead. One series was disrupted by penalties for holding and blocking in the back. Then, with just under five minutes to go, an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demetrius Ebron was called back because Warren had passed the line of scrimmage.

The Seahawks got one more chance. They got the ball with 2:02 to play and 91 yards to cover. While they had success moving through the air, Northside, knowing Southside had to throw the ball, buckled down in its defensive secondary to preserve the win.

Southside deferred the opening possession to the Panthers. They went on to march down the field on the back of Marslender. Raydarius Freeman ran in a 17-yard touchdown on fourth-and-5 for the game’s first score.

The home side responded on its ensuing drive. Rhome gave the Seahawks a shot in the arm with a quick 34-yard gain, helping to set up a fourth-down score of their own — a 7-yard strike from Jonquil Haywood.

The game turned into a defensive bout after two touchdowns in the first two drives.

Taiwan Ebron had a fumble recovery and an interception for the Seahawks, but they were flagged nine times for 90 yards. Northside won the possession battle by over nine minutes and was able to limit Southside to just 154 rushing yards.

Northside moves on to play at Jones Senior next week. A win there would give the Panthers the opportunity to play for second place in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference the week after when they host Pamlico County.

Southside will wrap up its season at South Creek next week.