Southern rocks Hunt; will face Shelby Crest in 3-AA state title game
Southern’s journey through the state 3-AA playoffs will continue one more week as the Spartans cruised to a 38-10 victory over Wilson Hunt on Friday night in the Eastern regional finals.
Southern will play in its first football championship game in school history next week against Shelby Crest in Winston-Salem at BB&T Field on Saturday at 7:30 p.m..
“We’ve got one more game in us,” said Southern coach Adrian Jones. “We did what we had to do, which is all we’ve done all year.
Kendall Hinton threw three touchdown passes, including a pair to Derrick Mason, and ran for another to lead Southern’s offense.
“It was a great win,” Hinton said. “We’ve never been here. The coaches have never been here. We’re making a name for ourselves. We’ve come so far since the summer. We’ve become a real good team.”
The Spartans also came up big on defense, holding Hunt scoreless in the second half thanks to four forced turnovers and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown.
Southern wasted no time jumping out to a 9-0 lead.
“It was good not to come out flat like we did in the first three weeks of the playoffs,” Jones said. “We had done it all year until the last three weeks. We drove it down the field for points and put pressure on them.”
The Spartans took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in seven plays that culminated in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Hinton to Mason.
Then Southern’s defense got on the board with a safety on Hunt’s first possession. The fourth-down snap on a punt attempt flew into the end zone and was downed by the punter Anthony Gaetano.
But Hunt struck twice in the second quarter to go up 10-9. Both times Warriors quarterback Jacob WIlliams hit bit passing plays to Malik Williams to set up scores. Williams, who had five catches for 168 yards, was the one offensive weapon Southern was unable to slow down.
Hunt settled for a 34-yard field goal by Brian Orellano with 8:20 left to make it 9-3. And then after holding Southern to a three-and-out, Hunt got the ball back and marched 70 yards to take the lead 10-9 on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Williamson to Williams.
Southern took advantage of another Hunt punting miscue late in the second quarter to retake the lead. With 1:09 left in the half, Gaetano collided with one of his backfield protecters and lost the ball. Southern recovered at the Hunt 14.
Hunt was then called for defensive holding to move the ball to the 4 where Hinton hit Mason on a swing pass around the right side for a touchdown. The Spartans went for two and Hinton hit Jason Henderson for the conversion and a 17-10 lead.
“That was a momentum changer for us,” Jones said. “It let us play our game in the second half.”
In the second half, Southern’s defense stymied just about everything Hunt wanted to do offensively.
The Spartans stopped Hunt’s opening drive of the second half when Kaleb Barfield intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 95 yards to set Southern’s offense up in great field position.
Southern didn’t score after going for it one fourth-and-goal from the nine but the Spartans got the ball right back at the 12 as they forced a fumble on Hunt’s next offensive play.
Trowell gave Southern a 24-10 lead when he caught a nine-yard pass from Hinton with 7:50 left in the third quarter.
“The defense played the best that they have all season in the second half and that pumped up the offense,” Trowell said. “It helped us make the plays.”
Another defensive stand by Southern on Hunt’s next possession resulted in a blocked punt by Kameron Johnson. Tahj Spivey picked the ball up at the Hunt 15 and easily scored a touchdown to give the Spartans a 31-10 lead with only 33 more seconds off the clock.
Southern’s last trip to the fourth round came seven years ago in Jones’ first season as the Spartans’ coach. Southern lost to Wilmington Hoggard in the 4-A playoffs in 2007 but now Jones finally will get a chance to lead his team to the championship game.
SOUTHERN 38, WILSON HUNT 10
Wilson Hunt 0 10 0 0 — 10
Southern 9 8 14 7 — 38
Southern—Derrick Mason 17 pass from Kendall Hinton (Leonardo Orozco kick), 9:37
Southern—Safety, Hunt punter downed in end zone, 7:04
Hunt—Brian Orellano 24 FG, 8:20
Hunt—Malik Williams 29 pass from Jacob Williamson (Orellano kick), 3:06
Southern—Derrick Mason 4 pass from Hinton (Jason Henderson pass from Hinton), 0:45.6
Southern—Trowell 9 pass from Hinton (Orozco kick), 7:50
Southern—Tahj Spivey 15 blocked punt return (Orozco kick), 7:17
Southern—Hinton 1 run (Orozco kick), 7:12
Rushing—Hunt, Dexter Wright 7-32, Kyaun Peppers 3-12, Darius Barnes 10-18, Kentrell Brown 1-1, Jacob Williamson 7-26, Tae Davis 10-72, Malik Williams 3-16, Cam Hill 1-5, Team 2-(minus-26). Southern, Jordan Brown 8-72, Kendall Hinton 5-44, Will Cameron 6-34, Toney Bass 10-19, Gregory Washington 2-13.
Passing—Hunt, Williamson 6-16-171-1, Davis 0-1-0-0, Williams 0-1-0-1. Southern, Hinton 12-24-179-1.
Receiving—Hunt, Williams 5-168, Darrion Ballard 1-3. Southern, Derrick Mason 6-85, Maurice Trowell 7-80, Cameron 1-35.
Records — Hunt 11-4, Southern 13-2.
Note to readers: This story was corrected at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 to reflect several errors in the original text.
Two touchdown passes thrown by Southern’s Kendall Hinton in Friday’s 38-10 state 3-AA semifinal win over Wilson Hunt were credited to the wrong receivers in the original story and should have been credited to Southern’s Derrick Mason.
The first was a 17-yard catch at the 9:37 mark of the first quarter, the second a 4-yard catch at 0:45.6 of the second quarter. Mason finished with six catches for 85 yards.
Also, Maurice Trowell caught only one touchdown pass from Hinton and Jordan Brown none.