DURHAM — One would expect fireworks at a Southern Durham-Northwood game, and the two teams didn’t disappoint. They provided an offensive explosion, combining for 110 points as host Southern held off Northwood 56-54 on Friday night.
Southern snuffed Northwood’s game-tying two-point attempt with 38 seconds left to preserve the win in Big Eight 3A conference play.
“Offense came to play tonight. We’ve got some explosive guys,” Southern coach Adrian Jones said.
Northwood’s game-tying chance started with a blocked punt recovered by Hunter Blackmon, who gathered the loose ball at the Southern 30 and rumbled down to the Spartans’ 5-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback Ti Pinnix punched it in from 1 yard out for the touchdown. 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. The Southern defense rallied quickly, forcing Pinnix’s throw away from Smith’s outstretched hands to end the comeback.
“I’m proud of my guys. They stuck in there and made a play at the end of the game,” Jones said.
The game started as a 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.
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.
On the ensuing possession, Southern’s Kendall 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 up Blackmon’s blocked punt recovery.
The win keeps Southern (6-2, 4-0) undefeated in Big Eight 3A conference play.
“This is a confidence builder. We haven’t peaked yet,” Jones said.