Anybody who was expecting a track meet when defending 3AA state champion Southern hosted Cleveland on Friday night was not disappointed.
Kendall Hinton passed for five touchdowns and ran for two more as the Spartans eliminated the Rams 67-48 in the second round of the state 3AA playoffs.
The Big Eight champion Spartans (14-0) won their 27th straight game. No. 8 seed Cleveland, tri-champion of the Two Rivers, finished 10-3.
Southern, seeded No. 1 in the bracket, will host conference rival Chapel Hill in their third-round matchup.
Jordon Brown rushed for 122 yards and two scores.
“I’m satisfied because we understood the importance of advancing,” first-year Southern coach Darius Robinson said. “In my book a win is a win. Cleveland has a very explosive offense, but we were able to cut their scoring percentage almost in half.”
Aaron Farmer ran for three touchdowns and threw for a fourth in his final game for Cleveland.
“Southern did a great job,” first-year Cleveland coach Scott Riley said. “Obviously we’d rather have played better defense and tackled a little better, but Kendall Hinton’s the best player we’ve ever gone against.”
The Spartans led 34-14 at halftime.
Southern scored on its first possession, going 67 yards in six plays. Tony Orozco’s kick made it 7-0 at 10:35.
Cleveland came back quickly, with Daquan Goodwin going in from a yard out at 6:35 to finish a nine-play, 74-yard march. Paul Johnson added the kick.
Southern came right back with a six-play, 66-yard march ending in Hinton’s eight-yard strike to Jordan Mackins. Orozco’s kick made it 14-7 at 5:06.
Hinton then scored again from seven yards out to complete a nine-play, 80-yard march and Orozco converted.
Farmer scored for Cleveland from nine yards out and Johnson added the conversion to complete a 13-play, 65-yard drive at 2:34.
But the rest of the half was all Southern, as Hinton hit Aaron Hirsch from 15 yards out with Orozco missing the extra point at 1:43.
The Spartans then made it 34-14 with 6.5 left in the period when Hinton connected with Kaleb Barfield from nine yards away.
Cleveland struck first in the second half on a one-yard Farmer run at 9:36, five plays after he connected with Corey Brown on a 58-yard pass.
That started a spree of 26 points in 78 seconds.
Hinton hit Jason Henderson on a 62-yard scoring pass, but Kamal Rawlings returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards down the left sideline for a Cleveland score.
Then with 8:18 left, Hinton scored on a 51-yard keeper. And Brown put it away on a four-yard run with 4:05 left in the third.
Farmer got his third touchdown of the night from a yard out, with Corey Brown running for the two-point conversion.