Orange and Cleveland lit up the scoreboard Friday night in the second round of the N.C. 3AA playoffs in a classic duel of high-powered football teams.
Orange (12-1) outscored the host Rams 59-50 to advance to a third-round playoff at Southern Durham. Orange coach Pat Moser expects to see more offensive fireworks in a rematch with Southern Durham (11-2), which handed Orange its only loss of the season, 55-41 in the final week of the regular season.
I think its extremely hard to stop what Southern Durham does, Moser said Sunday in a telephone interview. They have a lot of offensive weapons. They have a great quarterback. They are going to score their points.
I think the only way to be in a game with them is to score with them. You have to find a way to score some points and hope you can get a stop here or there and gain an advantage somewhere. Thats what we are going to try to do.
In the first meeting, which was played at Southern Durham, the Panthers fell behind 27-0 but pulled within a touchdown late in the game.
They were able to stop us the first couple of times that we had the ball and we werent able to stop them, Moser said. We were able to score and cut it down to seven in the second half. There was only about three minutes to go and we tried an onside kick and didnt get it. They scored again in three plays to pull back out by 14.
We cannot start slow against a good team. Were going to have to play perfect football, thats all there is to it. We are going to have to score and we are going to have to find a way to stop them a couple of times when they have it.
The Panthers have a versatile attack, running out of a double wing set. Backs Tay Jones and Patrick Pettiford are capable of reeling off long runs. Against Cleveland, Jones had touchdown runs of 69, 68 and 51 yards. Pettiford had a 50-yard TD run.
Junior quarterback Garrett Cloer, who had passed for more than 2,000 yards and has 35 touchdowns, had 236 yards passing against Cleveland and threw for three scores.
We try to be able to run and throw based on what defenses give us, Moser said. Friday night, the way (Cleveland) put people up on the line of scrimmage, it was very important that Garrett have a good game. He was able to hit some big shots and throw the ball well.
Ty (Muller) and Atrell Stewart had good games at receiver. If we can throw that way against Southern Durham, it certainly would help us because everybody likes to pack up on our running game.
If we are able to run the ball, we will keep running it. If we are able to throw the ball, we will keep throwing it. Its nice to have Garrett and a good receiving group that we can do that.
Southern Durham, which defeated Cardinal Gibbons 33-28 in the second round, features an equally explosive offense led by junior quarterback Kendall Hinton (more than 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing) and running backs Williams Cameron and Jordan Brown (more than 1,300 yards rushing combined).
Turnovers are likely to be pivotal in the battle of prolific offenses.
It would be nice to have a couple of turnovers on their part, Moser said. We had the turnovers in the first game. We are going to need for them to have a couple of mistakes and for us to have none.
Moser isnt sure if playing in a shootout in the second round will benefit his team, but he is looking for any edge against the Spartans.
Our kids battled all the way to the end, Moser said. They had to fight to the end and came out successful. Maybe if we are in that kind of game again, which is probably what we expect, maybe it will help us. I hope so.
High-scoring or not, Moser expects another battle.
If you are going to win a state championship, you are going to have to beat teams like Southern, Moser said. I told our kids when we played Southern the first time that they might get a chance to play them again. And I will tell you this, there is nobody in the state better. If you can beat Southern Durham, you can beat anybody.