Panthers lack energy in big loss to conference foe

Published 11:24 pm Friday, September 21, 2018

PINETOWN — Doomed by a sluggish start that allowed Riverside to score two touchdowns in the opening five minutes, the Northside Panthers could never recover, as they picked up their second-consecutive defeat after losing tonight at home to the Knights, 41-7.

“I don’t think we really played really hard. I don’t know why. We just came out a little flat and didn’t have a whole lot of energy and never could gain any,” Northside head coach Keith Boyd said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words. I’m disappointed in myself. I don’t know what it’s going to take to be able to motivate this team, but we’ve got to find some thing in the next week. There’s still a lot of the season left and we’ll try to right the ship. All we can do is go back to work. There’s no sense in sitting around pouting about it and there’s certainly no need to make excuses. We’ve got to play better and we’ve got to coach better.”

Northside (3-2, 0-1 1A Coastal Plains Conference) had difficulty all night trying to stop the Riverside (4-1, 1-0) offense, as the Knights gouged the Panthers’ defense with screen passes and by running jet sweeps. Wide receiver Jaylen Williams and running back/linebacker Nakwon Burns proved to be the difference makers for the Knights, as they both scored a pair of touchdowns.

Williams opened the game’s scoring with 10:05 left in the first quarter, running a slant route before catching a pass from Riverside quarterback Brandon Beach and cutting past Northside’s Tyshawn Roberson and running into the end zone for a 27-yard score. Williams doubled Riverside’s lead, scoring a 7-yard touchdown on a jet sweep with 6:57 left in the opening quarter.

Northside looked to finally be getting going after defensive tackle Jon’malik Freeman made a one-handed interception on an attempted screen pass and returned it 30 yards to the Riverside 35. But the Panthers gifted the ball right back, botching the handoff on the next play and Riverside recovered. The Knights made the Panthers pat for their mistake, driving down the field before Burns scored on a 19-yard run up the middle, breaking multiple tackles, making the score 21-0 with 11:21 left in the second quarter.

On Northside’s next drive, the Panthers moved the ball into Riverside’s territory, thanks to Roberson gaining 10 yards on a screen pass, a Knights personal foul and an 11-yard run from Fred Taylor. But Northside shot itself in the foot again. Taylor fumbled the ball at the Riverside 40 and Burns scooped it up, returning it 60 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Knights’ lead to 28 points with 7:19 remaining in the opening half.

Northside’s defense showed improvement in the second half, but still couldn’t keep Riverside from scoring first in the second half. Wide receiver Ah’shaan Belcher took a direct snap and raced 27 yards untouched into the end zone with 4:35 left in the third.

The game had a scary moment in the fourth quarter, as Riverside’s Deonte Thomas went down with an injury. The game was paused for approximately 10 minutes as Beaufort County Emergency Medical Services technicians tended to Thomas and stabilized him as he was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to an ambulance.

The Panthers finally got on the scoreboard when Kenneth Winfield scored from a yard out, making the score 35-7 with 8:31 remaining in the game. Winfield was one of a few Northside players who showed flashes throughout the game. Boyd said he’ll need more from his team if they’re to win games.

“I’m not saying there weren’t flashes here and there, but as far as a total team effort, until we start playing with a total team effort with 11 guys on the field going assignment football and giving it 100 percent, we’re going to have a hard time winning,” Boyd said. “That’s partly my fault and it’s partly effort fault. We’re not pointing the finger at one person; we’re pointing the finger at the whole darn team. We’ve just got to get better or we’re going to have a long year.”

Northside will attempt to get back to its winning ways next Friday when the Panthers host Manteo at 7 p.m. for Homecoming.