Pat Moser has coached state champions. He’s had teams finish their regular schedule at 10-1. But he never led a team to an 11-0 record.
Senior quarterback Jackson Schmid threw three touchdown passes while juniors Marvante Beasley and Payton Wilson each accounted for two scores as Orange wrapped up an undefeated regular season Friday night in front of their home crowd with a 49-0 shutout of Oxford Webb.
“I’m really happy for the boys,” Moser said. “They put in a lot of hard work in the off-season, and they’ve work hard all season long, too. I’m pleased for the coaching staff that put in so much time and work, but I’m especially pleased for the kids.”
On a night when five different Panthers scored touchdowns, Moser noted that the defense produced its fifth shutout of the year – its second straight after Orange wrapped up a second consecutive Big 8 Conference championship with a 42-0 blowout last week of Chapel Hill.
Orange (11-0, 6-0 in conference games) outscored its 11 opponents almost 10-to-1, by a combined score of 370-38. It outscored its last three Big 8 rivals by a cumulative score of 133-3. Friday, Orange’s defense held Webb (2-8, 1-4) to 59 yards of total offense, minus-19 yards rushing.
“Our defense has kept us in games where our offense wasn’t doing so well, especially earlier in the year,” Moser observed. “Now our offense has come together and is scoring more points.”
Friday night at Auman Stadium, Beasley rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on just 8 carries, and he caught a 5-yard pass from Schmid for another TD. He set up his own 1-yard run for Orange’s first score by returning the opening kickoff to Webb’s 9-yard line.
Wilson returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown shortly before halftime, his fifth punt return for a TD this season, and it put Orange up 28-0 at the break. He also ran in a touchdown from 2 yards out for Orange’s first score of the second half. Wilson finished with 113 yards of total offense – 79 rushing on 8 carries, plus another 34 on a single pass reception.
Following Beasley’s first touchdown, Schmid threw first-half TD passes of 8 yards to Ryan Puckett and 19 yards to Kendall Whitted for a 21-0 Orange lead. For the night, Schmid completed 7 of 14 passes for 125 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Schmid’s 5-yard TD pass to Beasley put Orange ahead 42-0 late in the third quarter before Chris Eubanks scored the Panthers’ last touchdown on a 16-yard run midway through the fourth. Sophomore kicker Francisco McKinley (a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs) ended the scoring with his conversion kick with 5:05 left in the game.
Despite his team’s solid, all-around performance to cap an 11-0 season, Moser still had some concerns Saturday morning as he watched game film.
“I am concerned about the three-week layoff we have until the playoffs start,” Moser said.
Moser knew before the season started that Orange would have an open date on Nov. 4, thanks to the Big 8’s scheduling hole caused by Cardinal Gibbons’s move this year from the 3A league to the 4A PAC-6 Conference, but no one anticipated the late rain delays caused by Hurricane Matthew, pushing back the start of the N.C. High School Athletics Association playoffs.
“It’ll be 20 days before we play again,” Moser said. “That could be a problem. ... We’ll have to find ways to keep the kids focused.”
Keeping the Panthers focused on football should be easier, thanks to their 11-0 record, a first for the school, and even a first for Moser, who coached Graham to a state championship before heading to Hillsborough.
“This is new ground for me,” Moser said. “I’ve had teams that went 10-1 before, but never an undefeated team. Obviously, it’s very nice.”
Orange Football 2016
at Person County
Win 35 - 3
at Northern Durham
vs. Durham Riverside
Win 14 - 0
at Burlington Cummings
Win 48 - 0
vs. Western Guilford
Win 37 - 9
at Southern Durham
Win 49 - 7
Win 19 - 3
at Northern Vance
Win 14 - 0
at Cedar Ridge
Win 42 - 3
vs. Chapel Hill
Win 42 - 0
vs. Oxford J.F. Webb
Win 49 - 0