WINSTON-SALEM — Shelby Crest coach Mark Barnes had warned his Chargers before the NCHSAA 3AA finals that they couldn't afford to get into a shootout with Southern Durham.
Southern Durham proved him right, surviving a wild second half that saw five lead changes on its way to its first NCHSAA football championship with a 38-31 victory Saturday over Crest in the 3AA final at BB&T Stadium.
"It feels good, really good, to get this," Southern coach Adrian Jones said, cradling the NCHSAA championship trophy. "We started a little slow, but we did it. We'll take the win any way we can."
Southern's Kendall Hinton delivered the game-winning score with his fourth touchdown pass of the night -- an 80-yard strike to Jordan Brown with 57 seconds left to play.
Hinton also threw touchdown passes of 42 and 31 yards to Maurice Trowell and a 3-yarder to Jason Henderson, and he set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Tony Bass that came one play after a 24-yard pass to Trowell.
Hinton, the game's MVP, also threw for two 2-point conversions in the fourth quarter.
Crest (14-2) seemed to be in control after taking a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter. But Southern Durham (14-2) fought back on Hinton's 17-for-25 passing for 332 yards without an interception.
"We just weren't clicking at first," Hinton said. "We just had to trust in the offensive line and the defensive line to make plays, and they did."
The Spartans were helped by a safety, coming with 3:04 left in the third quarter on a high snap over the head of Crest punter Alex Trejo and through the end zone. That cut Crest's lead to 21-16.
Trejo kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the game to give Crest its last lead, at 31-30.
After Trejo put the ensuing kickoff through the end zone, and on the next play, Hinton found Brown wide open at midfield. Brown collected Hinton's pass and beat two defenders to the end zone, helped by a downfield block by Trowell.
Southern's Joshua Manns intercepted P.J. Brooks' last desperation pass as time ran out on Crest.
Trowell ended up with 198 yards and two touchdowns on just 8 receptions.
Crest's formidable ground game generated 313 yards on 56 rushes.Crest's Jalin Moore ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns, while Tre Harbison ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Saturday's loss was Crest's third in the 3AA championship final in four years.
Trowell, an N.C. State recruit, earned honors as Southern's offensive player of the game, while Dominique Mims was defensive player of the game for Southern after making four tackles and assisting on 10 others.