DURHAM — Southern Durham is going to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3AA championship.
The Spartans shut out Wilson Hunt in the second half Friday night en route to a 38-10 win to take the 3AA Eastern title, its first under coach Adrian Jones. Southern will play Shelby Crest Dec. 14 in Winston-Salem for the crown.
The Spartans forced five turnovers in the second half and six for the game in one of their most dominating defensive performances of the season. The unit intercepted the Warriors twice, recovered two fumbles and blocked two punts.
How bout that defense, Jones said. They stepped up big tonight. We have handled adversity all season from all sorts of people, so it just feels so good to get this win.
Leading 17-10 at halftime, Southern thwarted Hunts opening drive of the second half when Jason Henderson intercepted quarterback Jacob Williamson at the Spartans 1-yard line and returned the ball to the Warriors 5.
But Hunts defense held on fourth-and-nine after quarterback Kendall Hinton threw an incomplete pass.
The Spartans got the ball right back, however, on a Warriors fumble that was recovered by Joshua Manns. This time, Southern needed just two plays to go up 24-10 with 7 minutes, 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Spartans special teams came up big again on a blocked punt that Tahj Spivey scooped up and ran 15 yards into the end zone for Southerns third straight touchdown.
Safety Maurice Tillman helped make it four straight after intercepting the Warriors for his second consecutive game with aninterception. Hinton made them pay by scooting in from the 1 with 7:12 left for the 38-10 lead.
Our hard work finally paid off, Tillman said. The coaches pushed us all season. They kept telling us we had the talent to win the championship, we just had to believe it.
Southern quickly jumped out to a 9-0 lead on a Hinton to Maurice Trowell connection for 17 yards and a safety thanks to bad snap on a punt that sent the ball into the end zone.
The Spartans had the chance to extend their lead but were stopped at the Warriors 4 yard line on fourth down.
Hunt took the ball from the 4 to the Warriors 7 before the drive stalled. Place-kicker Brian Orellana nailed a 27-yard field goal with 8:20 left in the first half to trail 9-3.
Then, Hunts defense held Southerns offense for the second straight possession to take the ball at its own 30. The Warriors quickly drove 70 yards in seven plays that culminated with quarterback Jacob Williamson finding Malik Williams for 29 yards and a 10-9 lead.
Southern missed a 38-yard field goal that would have given it the lead back, but caught a break by recovering a muffed punt with 56 seconds left in the half.
Hinton needed just two passes a 10-yarder to Trowell and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Brown. A two-point conversion gave Southern a 17-10 lead that it never relinquished.