One would expect fireworks at a Southern-Northwood game, and the two teams didn’t disappoint last Friday night.
They provided an offensive explosion, combining for 110 points Friday. Southern was up 56-42 before Northwood quarterback Ti Pinnix ran in two four-quarter touchdowns, the last with 38 seconds to play.
The Spartans snuffed out Pinnix’s final two-point pass attempt to Jalen Smith to preserve their the Big-8 Conference win.
“This is a confidence builder. We haven’t peaked yet,” Southern head coach Adrian Jones said. “I’m proud of my guys. They stuck in there and made a play at the end of the game.”
Kendall Hinton was the big gun for Southern (6-2, 4-0 Big-8), passing for six touchdowns and running in one himself from 24 yards out. He completed 16 of 31 passes for 369 yards.
Derrick Mason (8 catches for 170 yards) caught Hinton passes of 61, 26 and 13 yards for touchdowns. Maurice Trowell (7-199) scored on TD catches of 57 and 35 yards, and he also scored on a 60-yard kickoff return — all three scores coming in the third quarter to help Southern grab a 42-28 lead. William Cameron (2-54) got most of his yards on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Hinton.
“Offense came to play tonight. We’ve got some explosive guys,” Jones said.
The win kept Southern (6-2, 4-0) undefeated in Big-8 play and in a tie for first place with Orange (8-0, 4-0), which was ranked No. 7 in the state last week. Heading into last Friday’s 6-0 win at Chapel Hill, the Panthers were ranked No. 1 in the Triangle by the News & Observer and No. 7 in North Carolina’s 3A classification by members of the Associated Press.
Southern and Orange will play in the last week of the regular season.
Friday’s game at Southern started as expected, with a see-saw, back-and-forth affair. Each team appeared to score touchdowns at will, but neither team could initially get the defensive stop to go up two scores. Momentum was not to be found on either side line.
Trailing 28-21 in the third quarter, Northwood’s Smith returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score. Southern answered on the ensuing kickoff with Maurice Trowell’s 64-yard return to put Southern back up 35-28.
Finally the Spartan defense got a stop, forcing a rare Northwood three-and-out and punt.
On the ensuing Southern possession, Hinton hit the speedy Trowell on a 56-yard touchdown strike, giving the Spartans a 42-28 lead with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
Northwood (6-2, 2-2) eventually answered on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Smith from Pinnix, making it 42-35 with 3:37 left in the third quarter. The teams traded touchdowns on the next four possessions, leaving Northwood trailing 56-48 after kicker Anthony Castro missed his first extra point of the season.
Both teams punted on their next possessions.
Southern got the ball back with 3:11 left in the game but the Northwood defense was able to stop the Southern offense a second consecutive time, setting the stage for a blocked punt and a recovery by Hunter Blackmon.
Two plays later, quarterback Ti Pinnix punched into the end zone from one yard out for a touchdown with 38 seconds left in regulation.
Northwood needed the two-point conversion and used a bunch formation, but on the snap Pinnix backpedaled and tossed to a streaking Jalen Smith along the goal line, who pulled from his tight end position. Southern’s defense pressured Pinnix into missing Smith’s outstretched hands, ending the comeback.