HILLSBOROUGH – Hillsborough Orange made two key fourth down stops in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 14-7 Big Eight 3A victory over Pittsboro Northwood.
Trailing 14-7 with 2:20 left in the game, the Chargers began at their own 22. But Orange held senior star quarterback Ti Pinnix to three incompletions and a sack to take over possession with 1:49 left to run out the clock. The seven points were the lowest Northwood has scored since a 28-7 defeat to Chapel Hill in 2012.
“Our defense played exceptional,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “They bent but they didn’t break. They held firm to some big stands.”
Orange had just stopped Northwood on its previous possession after the Charges advanced to the Panthers 10. But on 4th-and-3, Pinnix was again forced to throw an incompletion with 5:13 left in the game.
“Take those five minutes away and that’s the ball game,” Northwood coach Bill Hall said. “They came out strong and we were weak. These were two good football teams, and it’s hard to swallow.”
Orange scored 14 straight points within a three-minute span in the first quarter over a shell-shocked Northwood team.
Running back Eryk Brandon-dean scored on a 10-yard run with 8:33 left in the quarter. QB Garrett Cloer made it a two-touchdown lead by taking the Panthers 69 yards on five plays and sealing the down with a 1-yard plunge.
But the Chargers – and their defense – regrouped. QB Ti Pinnix led Northwood on its best drive of the night of 79 yards that culminated with Pinnix hitting a wide-open Jared Worley for 36 yards with 3:04 still left in the first quarter.
The Chargers had a chance to tie the game right before the half after Worley’s 46-punt return put Northwood at the Orange 21. But the Panthers’ defense came up big, stopping running back Kadarus Rone at the 1 on the fourth down with 15.5 seconds left.
“That stop was key,” Moser said. “But our missing a field goal in the third quarter was key, too, and it would have given us some cushion. These were just two really good football teams on a really good conference.”