DURHAM — Durham Hillside senior running back Donte’ Thomas-Williams scored three touchdowns to lead the Hornets to a 35-13 PAC-6 win over Northern Durham Friday night.
With just two games left in the regular season, Hillside claimed its 26th straight conference win.
After trailing 7-0 early, the Hornets (6-2, 3-0) scored 35 unanswered points before allowing a late touchdown that did not sit well with coach Antonio King.
“We had the game in hand, but they (Northern) kept up the intensity and our reserves were not prepared,” King said. “That is not a sign of a good championship team.”
The Hornets’ defense held the Knights to just 38 total rushing yards and intercepted starting quarterback Zaaghai Mann three times, including two by N.C. State recruit Kalen McCain.
Northern took a 7-0 lead after linebacker Atavion Oliver intercepted quarterback Nas Forte-Ferguson and took it back 25 yards.
But Hillside’s defense clamped down and shut out the Knights for the rest of the half. Meanwhile, the offense got into a rhythm and scored 28 straight points on its next four possessions.
Thomas-Williams, who now has more than 1,000 yards after rushing tonight for 130, tied the game with a 1-yard plunge with 10 minutes left in the half. Junior RB Raquaz Brannon gave the Hornets a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a 5-yard scamper after a 12-play 62-yard drive.
McCain then intercepted Mann and returned the ball to the Northern 36. Thomas-Williams made them pay three plays later from 14 yards out.
“I saw in film where they run that play a lot, so I knew it was coming and saw the ball,” McCain said.
The Hornets special teams also came up big with a blocked punt with 1:15 left in the half. Hillside needed just four seconds to build a commanding 28-7 lead on Forte-Ferguson’s nine-yard strike to Trevion Thompson.
McCain’s second interception at the Knights 38 in the third quarter helped Thomas-Williams score his third touchdown with 3:13 left in the game.
Back-up quarterback Griffin Baker got Northern (2-7, 2-1) on the scoreboard in the second half with a 21-yard pass to Alphonso Gbojueh for the final score.
Coach R.J. Wilson’s team has played one of the toughest schedules in 4A football. He says it’s paying off.
“We are coming together. The tough nonconference schedule builds character and strengthens the team,” Wilson said. “We would love to see some wins, but we are building as a team.”