Orange High football coach Pat Moser said the key to beating Southern Durham on Friday night will be defense.
Both teams are undefeated.
Southern Durham is scoring 41.8 points per game and Orange is allowing 11.6.
“We’re going to have to play good defense on a team that scores a lot of points. The key to our victory is defense,” Moser said.
Southern Durham, which allows only 9.4 points, faces much the same challenge as Orange. The Panthers average 37.5 points.
“We can’t have mistakes in a big game. Whoever makes the least mistakes usually wins,” said Orange quarterback Grant Cloer.
Perhaps the biggest key is Southern Durham quarterback Kendall Hinton, whose value far surpasses his 2,273 passing yards, 21 touchdown passes, 531 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Hinton has a knack for making the game-winning plays. He did it in the 2013 state 3AA championship game, a 38-31 victory against Shelby Crest, and this year in the Spartans’ 16-13 victory against Durham Hillside and their 34-28 win against Scotland.
When the game is on the line, he has delivered time and again.
Southern Durham trailed Crest by 21 points in the first half of the 2013 title game and was still behind 31-30 with 68 seconds left. Hinton threw an 80-yard scoring pass to Jordan Brown for the title.
Hinton is a Wake Forest recruit.
“It’s very exciting,” said coach Jermaine Evans. “It is huge for our team, the school and the Rolesville community.
“We felt like we had been knocking on the door of victory for three or four weeks, but we never could finish the deal. It felt great to finally close out a game and get a much needed victory.”
Carnaji Andrews leads the Rams with 1,540 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. Colby Cooper has 73 receptions for 941 yards and six scores, and E.J. Hicks 46 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns.
John Branch leads the team with 700 rushing yards.
The key stop came after Clayton scored with three minutes left. Clayton went for two and the pass was incomplete, but West Johnston was called for pass interference. On the second try, the Comets tried to run, but were stopped.
“It was a great team effort,” said West Johnston coach Jimmy Williams. “Sam Campbell, Dylan Lawrence, Brandon Baucom and Parker Keys swarmed the runner.
“We had a bunch of seniors that were not going to be denied.”
West Johnston recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.