HILLSBOROUGH – — Orange forced six turnovers as they dominated visiting South Johnston 56-13 in the second round of the 3A East playoffs Friday.
No. 2 seed Orange played almost flawlessly on both sides of the ball.
The Panther defense had five interceptions and a fumble recovery, while the offense scored eight touchdowns.
“Wow, I can’t describe it. We played so well,” Orange coach Pat Moser said.
The Orange defense picked off South Johnston QB Austin Raynor five times, including two in the end zone.
“I thought it wastop right before the half. It was only 28-6 and [South Johnston] could have cut the lead in half right there, but the defense stood up and that was big,” Moser said about Collin Pope’s interception in the end zone to end the first half.
Fellow defender Jamal Pittman had two picks. The first was a 35-yard interception return down to the Trojan 5-yard line early in the first quarter. Orange’s Patrick Pettiford ensuing 5-yard run put the Panthers up 7-0.
“That interception sparked us and we were able to score,” Moser said of Pittman’s pick following a rare three-and-out on Orange’s opening drive.
The spark seemed to be all the Panthers needed. Sean Motley hit Matt Gattis on a 16-yard scoring strike on the Panther’s next possession. Orange benefited from a 62-yard bomb by Motley to Pettiford two plays earlier.
No. 3 seed South Johnston answered on its next possession. Raynor hit Devin Harris in the end zone for the 26-yard score. The extra-point closed the gap to 14-7 with 5:04 left in the first quarter.
Orange (10-2) responded on the next series. Motley capped a 10-play, 50-yard drive with a 24-yard pass to Gattis for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.
“I thought Sean was the player of the game,” Moser said. Motley finished with 199 yards and three touchdown passes.
Jalen Pittman’s 57-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter gave the Panthers a 28-7 lead.
South Johnston (8-4) scored on its first possession of the second half to close the gap to 28-13. However, Orange answered on the ensuing series with a 5-yard plunge by Michael Bolden to push the lead back up to 35-13.
Motley’s third TD pass of the game – a 48-yarder to Pettiford – made it 42-13 in the third. Place kicker Juan Torres was perfect on eight attempts.
Orange travels to No. 1 seed Eastern Alamance Friday week in the third round.