Southern tops Orange to gain Big Eight championship
Southern figured out how to play defense — in the first half — against Orange and with a 55-41 win Friday night made history as the first 3-A Big Eight Conference champion.
Southern coach Adrian Jones had moist eyes after the game. So did his quarterback.
“Hey, tears of joy,” Jones said. “We haven’t had a championship in three years. I’m glad to get it back.”
Southern was in the 4-A PAC-6 before being reclassified after last season.
“First conference championship in about four years,” Southern quarterback Kendall Hinton said.
Offense was not a problem for the Spartans, who took a 34-13 lead into halftime. The pregame question mark for Southern was whether it could play defense against the Panthers, who have up plenty of points this season. But the Spartans locked them up early on.
“Our first quarter was horrible,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “It was 28-nothing before we got going. That’s too late against a team that good.”
On the first play of Southern’s second possession, Hinton took off up the gut for a 36-yard touchdown.
It was then the scoreboard operator began his workout. The Spartans’ offense kept him real busy.
Just before halftime, Hinton found Southern wide receiver Kerry Ivory in the end zone for a 31-yard reception. Orange free safety J.D. Brooks knocked the daylights out of him, but Ivory hung on to the football for a touchdown.
The Spartans defenders appeared to have caught a case of amnesia at halftime, because the Panthers began eating into their lead.
Orange quarterback Garrett Cloer had some big strikes in the second half, including a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ky Muller.
Jones said he knew Orange would make a run.
“We learned a lesson tonight,” Jones said. “When we’re up on a team like that, we’ve got to keep pounding.”
The Spartans led 48-34 in the fourth quarter when the Panthers had the ball on fourth-and-2 on Southern’s 18-yard line. Orange running back Tay Jones fumbled, and Southern’s Tahj Spivey recovered it on the 11.
Orange forced Southern to punt and got the ball back with five minutes to figure out something.
On fourth-and-8, Cloer struck again, getting up with running back Patrick Pettiford for a 76-yard touchdown pass. Brad Barbee’s extra point brought Orange within seven points.
Southern smothered Orange’s onside kick at midfield, and with just a few minutes left in the game, Hinton raised his arm and sealed the matter with 44-yard touchdown pass to his main man, wide receiver Maurice Trowell.
“That’s our general, and the offensive line did a heck of a job giving him time to make plays,” Jones said.
The Spartans were stingy in the first half. Their defense didn’t give up much of anything until Orange’s Tay Jones broke loose out of the backfield for a 93-yard sprint to the end zone.
SOUTHERN 55, ORANGE 41
Orange 0 13 21 7 — 41
Southern 20 14 14 7 — 55
S — Kendall Hinton 36 run (Leonardo Orozco kick), 6:28
S — Jordan Brown 41 run (Orozco kick), 3;30
S — Derrick Mason 18 pass from Hinton (kick failed), 23.5
S — William Cameron 5 run (Orozco kick), 11:20
O — Tay Jones 93 run (Brad Barbee kick), 2:27
S — Kerry Ivory 31 pass from Hinton (Orozco kick), 0:59.6
O — Jones 29 pass from Garrett Cloer (kick blocked), 0:25
O — Patrick Pettiford 5 run (Barbee kick), 8:27
S — Maurice Trowell 4 pass from Hinton (Orozco kick), 3:58
O — Pettiford 4 run (Barbee kick), 2:22
S — Mason 49 pass from Hinton (Orozco kick), 1:30
O — Ky Muller 70 pass from Cloer (Barbee kick), 34.5
O — Pettiford 76 pass from Cloer (Barbee kick), 3:08
S — Trowell 44 pass from Hinton (Orozco kick), 1:58
RUSHING — Orange, Patrick Pettiford 13-92, Michael Bolden 5-21, Garrett Cloer 4-13; Southern, Kendall Hinton 9-88, William Cameron 7-20, Jordan Brown 5-47.
PASSING — Orange, Cloer 7-18-1 111; Southern, Hinton 27-40-1 407.
RECEIVING —Orange, Atrell Stewart 3-59, Ky Muller 2-42, Jeffrey Campbell 1-7, Pettiford 1-3; Southern, Derrick Mason 9-146, Maurice Trowell 10-175, Kerry Ivory 3-39.
Records — Orange 10-1, 6-1 Big Eight 3-A, Southern 9-2, 7-0 Big Eight.