Southside’s ‘redemption road’ blocked at North Duplin

Published 11:49 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

CALYPSO — Southside’s journey down redemption road hit a roadblock in the third quarter of Friday’s second-round 1-A playoff game at North Duplin. The Rebels scored their third and fourth unanswered touchdowns in the third to deal the Seahawks a 35-6 loss.

WATCH: Southside coach Jeff Carrow discusses the second-round elimination

Momentum noticeably shifted about midway through the third quarter. North Duplin went for a fake punt and would have converted on fourth-and-3, but a holding call brought it back and allowed Southside to make the stop.

The Seahawks, trailing 14-0 at the time, got the ball at their 19-yard line, but fumbled it away on the first play of the drive. Rebel quarterback William Archer scampered in for one of his three touchdowns two plays later to extend his team’s advantage to 21-0 with 5:48 left in the third.

Southside then went three-and-out on its next offensive series. The Seahawk sideline was livid due to what the coaches perceived as defensive pass interference when their receiver was hit along the sideline before having a chance to make a play on the ball.

“(Was the game) out of hand? No. I don’t think the officiating was very good, but we can’t do anything about that,” Southside coach Jeff Carrow said. “We’ve got to be able to put points on the board.”

North Duplin received the ensuing punt and Dylan Jones returned it to the Seahawks’ 23. Kenny Sheppard scored a 5-yard touchdown shortly thereafter, giving the Rebels a 28-0 lead with 1:56 left in the third.

The Seahawks would finally find the end zone in the fourth. They set up in Rebel territory after their punt returner was roughed up before receiving the kick. Jamari Nelson rumbled for 22 yards to position Brandon Sullivan, who bullied his way through the middle for a 5-yard score.

Archer salted the game away with his third touchdown, bringing the score to 35-6 with 2:55 to play. Southside lost by the same score in Chocowinity in Week 5.

North Duplin received the game’s opening kickoff, but its first drive ended when Archer’s incomplete pass yielded a turnover on downs at Southside’s 33. The Seahawks had it drawn up to look to the air immediately. The first play saw quarterback Will Warren hit Demetrius Ebron for 27 yards.

(Ebron) is a heck of an athlete. He can really make some plays,” North Duplin coach Hugh Martin said. “It’s scary seeing him back there getting snaps.”

The passing game was a bit like a game of Russian roulette, though. Going into the game, North Duplin had three seniors with multiple interceptions. Southside’s first attack abruptly ended when Gage Smith notched his third pick of the season.

“I knew we would have to attack them a different way. They knew we were going to look to run the ball, obviously,” Carrow said of the game plan on the first possession. “It’s time to grow up. You’ve got to throw the ball. To win championships, you have to do both.”

Southside turned the ball over four times in the game — two interceptions and two lost fumbles. It was also on the receiving end of 13 penalties for 115 yards.

“I think we had the opportunities to make big plays, but stupid penalties and turnovers in the second half,” Carrow said. “I think we really beat ourselves some in the second half. But you’ve got to make plays when they’re there.”

North Duplin found itself in the red zone by the end of the first quarter. Sheppard was hauled down at the Southside 2, brining up fourth-and-goal, but was able to punch in the game’s first touchdown.

Sullivan ran for a pair of first downs in the following drive. It stalled out after Warren rolled out to his right and was brought down in the backfield, forcing a punt. Southside got the ball back on the Rebels’ only turnover of the game, but quickly went three-and-out.

Archer made it 14-0 with his first trip to the end zone. Ebron’s return gave put Southside 51 yards from the end zone with 2:32 left in the half. The Seahawks marched, hoping to swing the momentum with a late touchdown before receiving the ball to start the second half.

They got into the red zone, but the chance slipped away when the Rebels recovered a fumble at their own 6.

Archer and Sheppard combined for 222 of North Duplin’s 331 yards — all of which came on the ground — and all five touchdowns. Colby Bass added another 95 yards rushing. The Rebel defense bottled up Southside’s ground game, holding it to just 121 yards and 213 total.