Northside holds out for win on Senior Night

Published 12:28 am Friday, November 2, 2018

PINETOWN — After taking their second 10-point lead of the game with just over four minutes remaining in the game, the Northside Panthers still had their hands full, as it had to stifle Jones Senior’s second comeback in the closing minutes to leave Senior Night with a win.

“The first quarter was really good, the first couple drives (we) stuck them in, scored 16, and then the whole rest of the dag on game had been a microcosm of our season, you know, penalties, and more penalties, turnovers, and more turnovers, blown assignments, and more blown assignments,” Northside head coach Keith Boyd said. “We have yet to put a whole game together and it’s just frustrating.”

The Panthers punched in a 3-yard score with 4:04 remaining in the game to lead it, 22-12, and looked to have the game in the bag on the ensuing Jones Senior possession, after Trojan quarterback Detorian Brown threw three consecutive incompletions from midfield. However, on fourth down Brown connected with wide receiver Jacob Kinsey for 25 yards to give Jones Senior a fresh set of downs from the Northside 25. On the next play, Brown showed off his scrambling ability and his accurate arm under pressure for the second consecutive play, as he found Kinsey again wide open down the left field line for the 25-yard score with 3:31 to play.

Despite the Northside sideline and fans yelling to the special teams players that an onside kick attempt was likely coming, the Panthers couldn’t react quick enough to recover the onside kick attempt that did come. The Trojans once again took over to start their drive from midfield for the second consecutive drive, with the momentum of the game clearly in their favor.

Their first down rushing attempt was stuffed and they only picked up one yard before rushing for a 8-yard gain on second down. Setting themselves up for a manageable third-and-one, Brown lined up for what looked to be a quarterback sneak, but once he took the snap, rolled out and looked down field for a deep pass. Eyeing a one-on-one near the 30-yard line, Brown spiraled a jump ball. Unfortunately for him, senior safety Omari Crandell judged the pass better and came up with the football, returning it back 20 yards to midfield.

The Panthers moved the ball down to the Jones Senior 3 before taking two knees to run the clock out and hold on for the two-point victory.

“My kids never quit,” Jones Senior head coach Greg Hampton said. “We all decided we’re going to come together and we’re going to play (after Hurricane Florence) and that’s what these kids have done.”

Northside once again struggled with turnovers and penalties. The Panthers fumbled the ball twice in Trojan territory during sustained drives that looked to be candidates to put points on the board, but their inability to hold onto the ball caused the nail-biter down the stretch.

Northside’s defense played well enough to be the difference maker in the game. Prior to the fourth quarter, the Panthers held Jones Senior to 23 carries for 122 yards, as it forced the Trojans to turn to the run game after they completed just three passes in three quarters.

“We watched him (Brown) on film and we knew that he scrambles really well and (that) you can’t give up on the play,” Boyd said. “We did well with that until about the second half and then we had bonehead stuff. If we can find a way to do it, we do it.”

Although it had a breakdown in the fourth quarter with two long pass plays amounting to 50 yards, Jones Senior couldn’t complete its other five attempts in the quarter. After Northside’s turnovers, the Panther defense stood its ground on the little rest it had between drives and forced the Trojans to punt five of their 12 drives away, as well as taking the ball away on three other drives.

Northside did its damage on the ground once again with a banged up quarterback situation, rushing 42 times for 261 yards and going just 1-for-2 in passing. Luckily for the Panthers however, their one completed pass was a 66-yard TD to Kenneth Winfield in the second quarter.

Jones Senior on the other hand tried its passing game more frequently as it took to the air 15 times. Although it completed just five of those attempts, Brown was not at fault for a majority of passes. His on-target spirals were some of the best looking plays of the night, but fell incomplete due to coverage on his wide receivers. The Trojans picked up 125 yards on those five passes, and rushed 29 times for 153 yards as well.

“We’re going to go back to fundamentals for three or four days to clean some of this stuff up,” Boyd said. “Our season’s over unless we can make the playoffs, we don’t have a game next week, but we won’t know anything until next weekend and if we get in, maybe that will pay off for us.”

Northside will have to wait until Nov. 10 to find out if it has been gifted a postseason berth, as the season has been extended an extra week due to Hurricane Florence.