When the Optimist Bowl trophy has to relocate, it never has to go too far. On Tuesday, Southern Vance made sure the hardware traveled back across the county, across town and across the sideline with a resounding 26-10 victory against rival Northern Vance.
Northern’s victory last season stopped a five-game winning streak in the series by the Raiders (1-2). But Southern wasted no time in setting the tone. On its first offensive play from scrimmage, quarterback Jerry Throckmorton hit Shamond Lyons on a quick slant for a 56-yard touchdown.
“It was time to bring (the trophy) on back tonight,” said Southern Vance coach Lewis Young, still basking in his Gatorade bath. “The thing about us with Northern is we just know each other so well. In 7-on-7s we saw each other three times before the season and again in the jamboree. We know each other well, so it’s just about executing.”
The Vikings (2-1), who have already surpassed last year’s win total, were held to just 94 yards of total offense. The game was moved to Tuesday after Friday’s rainfall postponed the annual nonconference rivalry game.
“You don’t want your team to lose but you want them experience adversity,” said first-year Northern Vance football coach Cory Lea. “Good teams play for four quarters. So we take this as a lesson. ... We didn’t tackle very well today, we didn’t block very well up front, and those kinds of things are mainstays. If we don’t do that we won’t win any games.”
Southern Vance led 12-3 at halftime, but Northern Vance showed signs of life in the fourth quarter as it cut the lead to 20-10 on a 33-yard pass from Kristopher Haywood to Keon Fogg. The Vikings forced Southern to punt, but on the second play after Northern got the ball back, it mishandled a shotgun snap and bounced into the end zone.
The Raiders recovered to put the game out of reach.
They said it
Southern Vance senior Mark Baldwin on lack of trash-talking: “It was more talking with the pads than anything. We try to keep it classy.”
Three who mattered
Mark Baldwin, Southern Vance: Always making the first guy miss, the tiny and tough runner had 14 carries for 69 yards and 3 catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He had a game-high in each of those categories.
“I couldn’t get those yards without my teammate. The line (had) great blocking, the best they’ve had all season,” Baldwin said.
Jerry Throckmorton, Southern Vance: Did have two interceptions but the rest of his stats – 7 of 15 passing for 179 yards and two touchdowns – stand out more.
Brooks Falkner, Northern Vance: The Vikings kicker boomed a 32-yard field goal and extra point that nearly left the stadium. He added a kickoff and a one inside-the-20 punt.
By the numbers
94: Northern Vance was held to just 94 yards of offense.
2: Southern Vance backup quarterback Corey Twitty saw some first-half action and was 2 of 2 passing for 28 yards and a score. While he was being tackled, he shoveled a pass to Baldwin who did the rest on a 10-yard touchdown.
“I don’t know what happened. We just read and react,” Baldwin said. “I think our athletes are capable of being smart on the field and not cracking under pressure.”
17: The yards Northern Vance lost when a mishandled snap went into the end zone, where Southern’s Romello Thompson pounced on the fumble for the final score of the night.
33: Yards on Northern’s only touchdown of the night, a 33-yard pass from Kristopher Haywood to Keon Fogg.
8: Times Southern has beaten Northern for the Optimist Bowl football trophy over the last 10 years.