ALEIGH — R Southern Durham used its team speed to produce big plays early in the game en route to a 45-28 victory over Cardinal Gibbons on Friday night.
Southern (5-2) improved to 3-0 in the newly-formed Big Eight 3A Conference. The Spartans were a 4A team a year ago. Cardinal Gibbons, which had never lost a conference game in four seasons in the Carolina 6 3A lost for the first time in a conference game as a 3A school, ending a 22-game streak.
“It’s good to have that (team speed),” Southern Durham coach Adrian Jones said. “We’ve definitely got a lot of guys we can get the ball to. When you have a lot of guys (with speed) like we do, it is hard to pinpoint who to stop.
“That is what we did tonight, move the ball all around. … I’m proud of my guys tonight because that is a good team we beat tonight.”
At the center of the Spartans’ attack was quarterback Kendall Hinton, who completed 12 of 14 passes for 257 yards and three first-half touchdowns. He also rushed for 108 yards, often scrambling out oftrouble to pick up yardage.
The Spartans, ranked No. 8 in the The News & Observer poll, struck early, getting a 28-yard field goal ontheir first possession. After forcing a Gibbons punt, Hinton hooked up with Maurice Trowell on an 86-yard touchdown pass on a fly pattern down the right sideline on the first play from scrimmage.
Southern also got a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from William Cameron with 4:41 left in the first quarter to go up 17-7. Scoring drives of 72 and 92 yards pushed the advantage to 31-7 with just 52.7 seconds left in the half.
Gibbons (5-2, 2-1), ranked No. 11 in The N&O poll, didn’t quit. The Crusaders went 70 yards for a touchdown, getting a 4-yard scoring pass from Shawn Stankavage to Earl Gill to cut the lead to 31-14 with 7.3 seconds left.
The Crusaders recovered an onside kick with four seconds left in the half, but Stankavage’s pass was picked off by Josh Manns – who had two interceptions on the night.
Gibbons got within 38-28 in the second half after recovering another onside kick.
But Southern went on a clinching drive after Gibbons tried a third onside kick that was recovered by the Spartans with 11:46 left in the game. Toney Bass went in from the 6 to make it 45-28 with 8:47 left.
“They are extremely talented and we knew that coming in,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Steven Wright said.
“We knew we were going to have to score points, that it would be tough to stop them.
“Credit to them. They played extremely well. They had a nice game plan. They certainly earned the win.”
Stankavage, under pressure much of the night from the hard-charging Spartans’ defense, battled
hard. He completed 22 of 44 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score while
throwing two interceptions.
“Despite the fact that we had trouble stopping them, four times we were in the red zone and came
away with no points,” Wright said. “I think that is ultimately what sunk our ship.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort of our kids. Certainly, nobody quit. You just have to give
credit to coach Jones and their crew because they did a nice job.”