Southern upends Orange in state 3-AA quarterfinals
Southern’s march through the state 3-AA playoffs continued on Friday night with a 31-24 win over Orange.
The Spartans survived a late rally and advanced to the fourth round for the second time under Coach Adrian Jones but the first time since his rookie season on the sidelines in 2007.
“It was like a championship round,” Jones said. “We had two great teams and our defense stepped it up when we needed to step it up. I’m proud of those guys.
Southern (12-2) scored three touchdowns on long plays in the second half but then had to recover an onside kick in the final minute to earn the victory. The Spartans will host Wilson Hunt next Friday with a berth in the 3-AA championship on the line.
Orange backup quarterback Bryse Wilson brought the Panthers to within a touchdown after driving 57 yards for a score. Wilson connected with Artrell Stewart for an 18-yard scoring pass with 28.6 seconds left in the game to make it 31-24.
Southern’s Kameron Johnson recovered the Orange onside kick to give the Spartans the ball for the final time to run out the clock. The Spartans also recovered an Orange onside kick in the final three minutes of the teams’ previous meeting on Nov. 8 after Orange had cut a one-time 27-point Southern lead to seven at 48-41 in an eventual 55-41 Southern win.
The teams played to a 10-10 halftime tie in what was setting up to be a defensive struggle.
But Orange grabbed the early third-quarter momentum as Patrick Pettiford took the second-half kickoff 88 yards to the Southern 4. He then scored a touchdown on the next play on a run around the right side to make it 17-10.
After that, Southern’s big-play offense took over thanks to a trio of great individual efforts for the Spartans’ own comeback.
“We’ve got big playmakers,” Jones said. “One thing you’ve got to do against them is secure the tackles. They didn’t and that’s what happens.”
Will Cameron scored on a 46-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 17-17. He was nearly brought down for a loss but was able to elude several Orange tacklers en route to the end zone.
“I wasn’t going down and I just kept pumping my feet,” Cameron said. “It was unbelievable because I didn’t think it would happen. But the impossible happened.”
Southern’s defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back on their own 42. After a short run on first down and incomplete pass on second down, quarterback Kendall Hinton connected with Jordan Brown for a 55-yard touchdown pass. Brown caught the ball and evaded a handful of Orange defenders before escaping up the sideline for his second touchdown of the game. He also had a two-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
Marvin TIllman’s 70-yard interception return provided the difference for the Spartans. Tillman picked off Wilson, who was in the game for starter Garrett Cloer after he was knocked out of the game on Orange’s previous possession.
“They came out and made some big plays,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “Those runs were special. They just didn’t break out into nothing. They broke tackles and slipped out our grasp.”
Orange (12-2) finished its season with the most wins in school history. Its only two losses came against Southern.
NOTES — East Regional No. 2 seed Southern will host No. 4 seed Wilson Hunt (11-3) Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the East Region title game. The winner of that game will play for the state 3-AA title at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Wake Forest University’s BB&T Field. ... Hunt upset No. 1 seed Douglas Byrd in Fayetteville 20-14 Friday night.
SOUTHERN 31, ORANGE 24
State 3-AA Quarterfinals
Orange 10 0 7 7 — 24
Southern 7 3 14 7 — 31
Orange — Ky Muller 35 pass from Garrett Cloer (Brad Barbee kick), 9:17
Southern — Jordan Brown 2 run (Leonardo Orozco kick), 6:40
Orange — FG Barbee 26, 1:55
Southern — FG Orozco 23, 10:57
Orange — Patrick Pettiford 4 run (Barbee kick), 11:49
Southern — Will Cameron 46 run (Orozco kick), 9:20
Southern — Brown 55 pass from Kendall Hinton (Orozco kick), 6:20
Southern — Marvin Tillman 70 interception return (Orozco kick), 2:15
Orange — Artrell Stewart 18 pass from Bryse Wilson (Barbee kick), 28.6
RUSHING — Orange, Michael Bolden9-48, Patrick Pettiford 9-12, Tay Jones 7-12, Garrett Cloer 5-2, Drew Lemaster 3-2, Bryse Wilson 2-(minus-9). Southern, Jordan Brown 10-22, Will Cameron 5-71, Kendall Hinton 8-69, Toney Bass 4-27.
PASSING — Orange, Garrett Cloer 11-16-1 153, Bryse Wilson 3-5-1 59. Southern, Kendall Hinton 13-28-2 165.
RECEIVING — Orange, Ky Muller 5-76, Artrell Stewart 6-99, Jones 2-28, Pettiford 1-9. Southern, Maurice Trowell 9-124, Brown 1-10, Kerry Ivory 1-9, Derrick Mason 1-17, Cameron 1-5.
Records—Orange 12-2, Southern 12-2.
QB GARRETT CLOER'S LOSS HANDICAPS ORANGE LATE
BY DAN E. WAY
Special to The Herald-Sun
DURHAM — Ask anyone on the Orange football team and he’ll tell you, 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback Garrett Cloer is a tough kid with a will to win and the talent to lead.
So it was no surprise on a broken play in the fourth quarter against Southern on a bitterly cold Friday night Cloer would tuck the ball away and head downfield to beckoning daylight himself.
The decision was costly for the Panthers. Cloer was stood up and crushed in a ferocious vice of gang tackling along the Southern sideline. He arose unsteadily, wobbled across the field to the Orange sideline, and when he dropped to a knee before he got there, the Panthers’ odds of coming back dropped just as precipitously.
“He’s just a competitor and was trying to make something happen over there on their sideline,” Orange coach Pat Moser said. “He was flushed out of the pocket and was trying to make something happen, and so he was trying to get as much yardage as he could down the sideline and just took a big hit.”
Cloer was still being checked for a possible concussion after the game. Moser said the injury was a turning point in the game.
“It definitely hurt us,” Moser said. “He’s our leader. He’s our captain,” and he was positioning Orange for another score when he was injured.
“We were down a touchdown when he went out, and we had the ball up around midfield. So anything could have happened at that point if we put a drive together and tied it up,” Moser said.
Backup QB Bryse Wilson “did a great job coming in to fill in for him,” although he sputtered at first and had to warm up to the task after a three-and-out series, Moser said.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Moser said, “so we knew that he could move us down the field, that’s not a problem. They were giving us some soft coverage so we threw some underneath routes and our receivers made some big plays, and we took it downfield quick” to draw within 31-24 with under a minute to play. “Just couldn’t get the onsides kick.”
It was the second time Orange lost to the Spartans this year, and with the road to the state semifinals going through Durham, the Panthers found the task too tall an order.
“Definitely we have a tough time matching up with them,” Moser said.
“I think if the stars would line up one night, yeah, we could beat Southern. They would have to make a mistake or two, a turnover or two, and we would have to play real well,” Moser said. “I’m looking for them to be tough to beat the rest of the way out. They might just win it all.”
As for the Panthers, “it’s a great season” with 12 victories, “the most wins that Orange has ever had so it’s a special group of kids,” Moser said of his 12-2 program whose only previous loss came Nov. 8 55-41 also at Southern.
“You hate that it has to end, but Southern is deserving,” Moser said. “Right now we’ll just have to go home and start preparing for next year.”
NOTES — Orange came up one win short of its performance a year ago when it reached the state 3-AA semifinals. The Panthers were eliminated the week before the state championship round.