Offensive struggles lead to Southside loss, still qualify for postseason

Published 12:24 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

MOUNT OLIVE — A lack of execution from the Southside offense doomed the Seahawks against North Duplin as the Southside defense couldn’t quite do enough on its own to keep the Seahawks in the game in a 21-7 loss tonight.

Despite the defeat, Southside (4-7, 2-4 1A Coastal Plains Conference) still moves on to the playoffs and will find out its opponent when the North Carolina High School Athletic Association releases playoff brackets tomorrow.

Seahawk head coach Jeff Carrow said tonight’s performance was similar to his team’s loss last week to South Creek, in which the Southside defense limited the Cougars to seven points, but the offense couldn’t capitalize and score.

“We came out, did not execute on offense,” Carrow said. “I felt the defense did a good job of holding them (the Rebels), to limiting them. They marched the field; they picked up some first downs on third and fourth down. That’s to North Duplin’s credit right there. And they drove down and scored a couple of times. Again, this is on (the) offense, it needs to execute a whole lot better. That’s going to be on us (the coaching staff), watching film, revaluating, keep moving around until we can find the guys that are ready to go.”

The Seahawks’ offensive struggles started from the very beginning, as Southside turned the ball over on downs after six plays. Taking over on its own 46, North Duplin (5-5, 1-4 1A Carolina Conference) methodically drove down the field in 10 plays and scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Gage Outlaw with 5:17 left in the first quarter.

Led by Jonquil Haywood, who had a slashing 20-yard run, the Seahawks drove down the field on its next drive and looked primed to score. But disaster struck, as quarterback Will Warren fumbled the ball, with the Rebels recovering on their 11.

North Duplin’s Luis Olivos then broke free for a 69-yard run, putting the Rebels on the Southside 21. North Duplin worked itself to the 1, thanks to several runs from Kijah Blow, before Outlaw scored on another 1-yard run with 10:27 left in the second quarter.

North Duplin added a third TD run on fourth and goal from the 2 early in the fourth, thanks to Saul Mendoza, and the Seahawks finally got on the scoreboard with 0:38 left in the game courtesy of a 1-yard run from Davieon Carter.

The Seahawks managed to hold North Duplin to 227 yards on the night, all on the ground, but Southside mustered only 206 yards of offense of its own. The Seahawk offense had difficulty staying on the field, converting just four of 12 third downs. North Duplin on the other hand, finished the game having converted three of seven third downs.

With the postseason beginning next week, Southside has to put this loss in the rearview mirror and being preparations. Carrow said he will have his team work on the basic fundamentals and being more aggressive.

“I think the defensive side of the ball is coming around to (playing aggressively). The offense, it’s time to come around,” Carrow said. “I think Jaheem Carter ran the ball hard and Haywood’s back. He’s running the ball hard. We’ve got to get the rest of the offense together.”

Along with Haywood being 100 percent back after battling lingering injuries most of the season, Jamari Nelson has returned as well. The junior linebacker was set to be a key player this year before going down with an injury over the summer. He has been eased back and is now good to go just in time for the playoffs.

Carrow said the emotion Nelson plays with is something that can fuel his squad.

“Just flat out, they feed off of him (Nelson),” Carrow said. “You can tell the excitement in him; he’s just back to playing football. Something our defense can feed off of.”

Seedings for the 2018 NCHSAA postseason will be released tomorrow afternoon.