Hillsborough Orange held off Pittsboro Northwood for a 14-7 Big Eight 3A victory. The Panthers stopped Northwood twice in the red zone on fourth down in the fourth quarter.
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.
The Chargers had a chance to tie the game right before the half after Jared 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.”
Harnett Central 24, Clayton 21: Harnett Central (2-3) pulled the Greater Neuse 4A upset of the season so far with the win over the 3-2 Comets. Jay McNeill scoring the game-winning touchdown with 41 seconds left.
Clayton drove to the Central 31 with 11 seconds left, but Deshaun Arnold intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve the win. Harnett Central’s McNeill scored a pair of rushing touchdowns en route to the Trojans’ 24-21 victory at home against Clayton.
McNeil ended the game with 169 yards passing and 115 more yards on the ground.
Hoy threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns in defeat.
West Johnston 30, Knightdale 14: West Johnston kicker Cristian Torres sealed a win over Knightdale with his 31-yard field goal with 2:23 to play, but it was a Knights fumble the Wildcats turned into a touchdown with a minute left in the first half that provided the decisive cushion.
That score came on a 18-yard pass from Cameron Williams to Josh Collier. The Knights blocked the extra point and kept the deficit at 27-14 until Torres’ kick.
“It was very big,” West coach Jimmy Williams said of the points off the turnover. “We’ve talked about what we needed to do and we didn’t execute well in the second half, and I credit Knightdale for that. They made some adjustments and played harder, but that turnover helped to get us where we had enough to win the game.”
Williams finished 11 for 19 for 137 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Jones. Williams also rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries, complimenting Wildcats back Tony Mack, who rushed for 78 yards on 12 touches.
Knightdale was led by Malik Branch, who ran 12 times, gaining 109 yards.
Panther Creek 28, Athens Drive 14: Defense and special teams powered visiting Panther Creek to the Southwest Wake Athletic 4A victory.
Junior Isaiah Laster led the Catamounts’ defense, intercepting a pair of Athens Drive passes and returning a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown.
On special teams, Panther Creek (4-1, 1-0 SWAC) got a pair of field goals from Phillip Stone and a 25-yard punt return for a touchdown from Quran Moon on a partially blocked punt from the end zone.
Athens Drive (1-5, 0-2) erased a 13-0 deficit on a pair of touchdown passes from Otumos Payemanu to take a 14-13 lead in the third quarter but could not hold off the Cats.
The Catamounts won their fourth game in a row. They have allowed 14 points in their last three games.
Southern Durham 69, Northern Vance 0: Southern Durham, No. 1 in N&O rankings and in the AP state 3A rankings, pounded the Vikings. Southern built a 55-0 lead in the first half and the clock ran throughout the last two periods.
Wakefield 36, Sanderson 13: Wakefield continued to gain momentum in a Cap Eight 4A game.
Lee 42, Gray’s Creek 11: Jerry Pullum provided almost all of the offense for unbeaten Lee County.
Cleveland 49, Riverside 7: The Rams were in control throughout the non-conference road victory.
Cardinal Gibbons 39, Cedar Ridge 7: Starter Logan Washle and backup Anton Stoneking each threw two touchdown passes as Cardinal Gibbons (4-1) won 39-7 Friday at Cedar Ridge (2-3) in the Big Eight Conference opener for both teams.
Washle threw touchdowns passes of 35 yards to Jimmy Russo and 14 yards to Sean Nalesnik to guide the Crusaders to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 143 yards be leaving the game in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury.
Russo caught 10 passes for 125 yards.
Greensboro Dudley 24, Northern Durham 6: Northern Durham played the undefeated Panthers, who are ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, extremely tough, trailing 8-0 at the half. Dudley managed only one offensive touchdown. The Panthers returned a punt and an interception for scores.
Hillside 47, Nash Central 0: Hillside rushed out to a 34-0 halftime lead.
Running back RiQuaz Brannon led the Hornets’ offense with three touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Chauncey Caldwell ran for over 30 yards, running in two touchdowns in the third quarter to seal the Hornet’s victory over the Bulldogs.
Pinecrest 40, Jordan 6: Southern Pines Pinecrest (6-0) had little trouble with the Falcons (0-6).
Southeast Raleigh 20, Rolesville 12: Rolesville, which has no seniors, hung tough against the Bulldogs in the Greater Neuse 4A game.
Bunn 70, Northampton 0: Bunn rushed for 415 yards, led by Tevin Perry’s 143.
Northern Nash 42, Smithfield-Selma 0: Tyrees Wiggins sandwiched a pair of kick returns for touchdowns around an opportunistic offense. Wiggins returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score, then wrapped up matters in the third quarter with touchdown on an 80-yard punt return.
Northern Nash also converted a trio of Spartans turnovers into scores.
Country Day 41, Ravenscroft 6: The Ravens had more total offense, but couldn’t get into the end zone as often.
Victory Christian 69, North Raleigh Christian 0: Long night for the Knights.
Wake Christian 68, Kestral Heights 30: The Bulldogs (4-2) won their third straight game as Cameran Hinnant intercepted three passes.
Wilson Fike 41, South Johnston 3 5: Fike, No. 7 in the AP 3A poll, had to hold on to stop South Johnston (1-5). The Trojans recovered three on sides kicks in the game
Jamestown Ragsdale 57, East Chapel Hill 0: Wildcats slip to 0-6 and have been out-scored 260 to 37.
Aaron Moody, Bill Woodward, Jay Mumford and Michael Held contributed to this story.