Powerful SE Guilford topples Northern in 2014 opener
Northern came into its season opener with a lot of questions and Southeast Guilford had all the answers Friday en route to a 30-0 win at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
The outcome wouldn’t surprise many observers of high school football in the state. Southeast is a rising power, coming off an 11-3 season a year ago and ranked No. 28 among all programs in the state by MaxPreps.com. Northern, which won only three games last year, is ranked No. 188.
“We knew we were going to be challenged by a good team and they challenged us early,” second-year Northern coach R.J. Wislon said. “We’ve gotta do a better job getting prepared.”
The Falcons got on the board on the opening drive of the game.
A pair of long pass plays from Southeast quarterback Bubba Craven — 26 yards to James Paschal and 25 yards to Ken Fisher — set up Styles Jennings’ five-yard scoring run. The first of three straight two-point conversions made it 8-0.
Southeast added a pair of scores in the second quarter to take a 24-0 lead at the half and effectively put the game away.
Steven Baldwin scored on a one-yard dive and Craven found Greg Liggs Jr. for a seven-yard scoring play with 28.2 seconds left in the half.
Northern had its chances in the first half, most notably on an interception by Demazio Samuel at the Southeast 35. But first-time Knights’ starting quarterback Luke Fenlon, a sophomore, was picked off on the first play from scrimmage by Liggs, who is being heavily recruiting by Army and Navy.
“Our quarterback play today was satisfactory,” Wilson said. “But no turnovers is our goal and the one we did commit hurt us.”
Northern had an apparent 65-yard punt return for a score by Dejuan Graham called back because of a block in the back penalty.
The Knights also misfired on field goal tries of 28 and 44 yards in the first 24 minutes, T.J. Milby hitting the right upright on the first and Southeast getting a hand on the second to partially deflect it.
Southeast extended its lead to 30-0 on an untimed play after the third quarter expired because of an illegal procedure penalty on the Falcons.
Zakey Stevenson broke loose on a 44-yard scoring jaunt down the right sideline.
Northern had a second apparent touchdown called back because of a holding penalty with 4:24 left in the game. Fenlon found Domineke Mitchell on a short pass that Mitchell took down the left side and into the end zone on 4th and 4.
“Two touchdowns called back, two field goals missed … Those were mistakes that would’ve changed the game,” Wilson said.
On the plus side, Wilson was pleased with the development of Northern’s running game. Alphonso Gbojueh carried 11 times for 56 yards and McNeill 12 times for 63. Reserve quarterback Jacob Johnson came on in the last minute and picked up 39 yards on two carries against Southeast’s backups before being sacked for a 9-yard loss.
“The offensive line did well blocking for those guys (Gbojueh and McNeill),” Wilson said, talking about the running game and his two main backs. “There is some future with them.”
Wilson felt the Knights “gave a great effort” and “never gave up,” despite the lopsided final score, and was pleased with those aspects of the 2014 Knights’ debut.
SOUTHEAST GUILFORD 30, NORTHERN 0
Southeast Guilford 8 16 6 0 — 30
Northern 0 0 0 0 — 0
SE — Styles Jennings 5 run (Steven Baldwin run), 8:38 2nd Quarter SE — Baldwin 1 run (Baldwin run), 5:35 SE — Greg Liggs Jr. 7 pass from Bubba Craven (Liggs pass from Craven), :28.2 3rd Quarter SE — Zakey Stevenson 44 run (Pass failed), 0:00
RUSHING — SE Guilford, Steven Baldwin 8-33, Style Jennings 23-101, Bubba Craven 5-17, Kris Fisher 5-7, Zakey Stevenson 1-44, Paul Gardin 1-5, Miles Fairley 3-0, Josh Anderson 1-4; Northern, Alphonso Gbojueh 11-56, Domineke McNeill 12-63, Luke Fenlon 2-(minus 15), Jacob Johnson 3-30.
PASSING — SE Guilford, Bubba Craven 4-7-1 71; Northern, Luke Fenlon 6-16-1 43.
RECEIVING — SE Guilford, James Paschal 1-26, Ken Fisher 1-25, Greg Liggs Jr. 2-20; Northern, Dejuan Graham 2-1, Johnathan Branch 2-24, Domineke McNeill 1-15, Gbojueh 3-3.
Missed FGs — Northern, T.J. Milby 28, 44.
Records — Southeast Guilford 1-0, Northern 0-1.