80-yard TD pass in final minute caps Spartan comeback
Dec. 14, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

Kendall Hinton’s 80-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Brown with 57 seconds left Saturday negated what appeared to be a game-winning Crest field goal 11 seconds earlier and gave Southern High School its first state football championship 38-31.

“I thank the Lord for this day,” Southern coach Adrian Jones said. “It’s a blessing to coach these kids. They played through adversity, they didn’t give up.”

“The tragedy of this game was the play that won it for them,” Crest coach Mark Barnes said after watching his defensive back on the game-winning play fall as Brown caught the ball. That slip allowed Brown to score. “It’s a tough game to lose.”

It took years for Southern High School to finally make it to its first state championship game. It took less than a half to make the Spartans look like they didn’t belong as Crest literally ran out to a 21-0 lead.

The Chargers ran for 248 yards in the half and didn’t attempt a pass.

“We were dominant running the football,” Barnes said, reflecting on a late first-half Southern score that trimmed the lead to 21-7 at the half. “We were in total control of the game. They were beaten down emotionally and that (scoring drive) gave them hope.”

Appearances were dicey. Apparently, Southern just needed to get warmed up on a frigid, wet evening at Wake Forest University’s BB&T Field.

The Spartans would outscore Crest 38-10 the rest of the way -- 31-10 after the half.

Southern opened the game with a 49-yard strike (41 yards through the air) from eventual MVP Hinton to Southern offensive player of the game Maurice Trowell to the Crest 23, but the drive stalled at the 19 on an incomplete pass on 4th-and-6.

And then the wheels came off. Or, from Crest’s standpoint, started turning.

Crest’s Jalin Moore, taking the direct snap in the Wildcat formation, saw a long gainer called back for holding, backing the Chargers up to their own 9. Moore gave the drive new life with a 55-yard run to the Southern 34, Tre Harbison carried 26 more to the 2 and took it in for the game’s first score with 8:24 left in the first quarter.

A nine-yard punt by Gregory Washington after a Southern 3-and-out set up Crest on the Southern 33 and Moore made Southern pay, carrying five times for 41 yards, the last three with 4:42 to play for a 14-0 lead.

The news got worse for Southern before it got better. With the Spartans unable to move the ball with any consistency, Crest took advantage of another short Washington punt. Harbison ran 57 yards to the Southern 2 and Moore took it in with 4:08 left in the half for a 21-0 lead.

But Southern wasn’t done.

The Spartans used most of those final four minutes on a 13-play, 76-yard drive with Hinton finding Jason Henderson from the 3 for a touchdown with 11 seconds left, cutting the deficit to a more manageable 14 points.

The key play in the drive was a 27-yard pass play from Hinton to Trowell.

“When we scored that touchdown just before halftime, I knew we had a chance,” Jones said. “14 points is not too much for this offense to make up.”

Southern stopped Crest on its first possession of the second half, a possession that saw Crest attempt its first pass of the night – it was complete but short of the 1st down – and led to a 3-and-out.

The defensive stand was just the beginning. Hinton immediately led the Spartans on an 85-yard scoring drive capped by Hinton’s 42-yard scoring pass to Trowell down the left sideline to cut the lead to 21-14 with 5:11 left in the quarter.

The momentum had changed, much of it because of tweaks the Southern coaching staff made to stop Crest’s run game. Jones explained that the key changes were bringing up the safeties to provide run support, shifting the positioning of the defensive tackles and sliding the defensive ends to avoid Crest blockers.

“Defense wins championships, offense sells tickets,” Jones said later after his defense held Crest to just 65 net rushing yards in the second half.

Southern forced a second straight Crest 3-and-out as Roosevelt Holdings, Xavier Harrison and Montreal Cherry combined to sack P.J. Brooks on third down. A bad snap on the ensuing punt led to a Crest safety with 3:04 left in the third and left Southern trailing by just five, 21-16.

The Spartans were unable to capitalize on a subsequent return to the Crest 46 as a fumbled exchange on an end-around try cost nine yards.

But Southern got a break after punting. Moore fumbled at the Crest 43 after apparently making a first down on 3rd-and-1. Montreal Cherry recovered for Southern just before the end of the quarter.

A 10-yard run by Jordan Brown and a 24-yard pass play from Hinton to Trowell set up Toney Bass for a six-yard scoring run 29 seconds in to the fourth quarter and gave Southern its first lead of the game. The Spartans made it 24-21 on a two-point conversion pass from Hinton to Brown.

Southern appeared to have stopped Crest again, but P.J. Brooks found Jordan Oates on a 20-yard completion on 3rd-and-13 to the Southern 16. Harbison’s 12-yard run with 6:53 left put Crest back up 28-24.

The Spartans, having found their game, answered with a 32-yard scoring pass from Hinton to Trowell with 5:41 left. Leonardo Orozco’s extra-point try was blocked and Southern led 30-28.

Southern’s comeback seemed doomed when Alex Trejo’s 40-yard field goal with 1:08 to play put Crest back on top, 31-30, and Trejo’s ensuing kickoff boomed over the head of Southern deep return threat William Cameron to give the Spartans the ball at their own 20.

Hinton had the answer. He found Brown up the right sideline and Brown did the rest, taking it 80 yards for the winning score with 57 seconds left. Hinton found Trowell on a two-point pass for the final 38-31 score.

“The coaches let us know where the holes were in the defense,” Hinton said of the last play. “(Jordan Brown) is an athlete. I know if I give him the ball he can get the job done.”

Crest didn’t have any answers, turning the ball over on an interception to Joshua Manns at the Southern 38 as time expired on an extraordinary title game.

2013 NCHSAA 3-AA Championship
Southern | 0| 7| 9| 8| 14 – 38
Crest | 14| 7| 0| 10 – 31
First Quarter
Crest – Tre Harbison 2 run (Alex Trejo kick), 8:24
Crest – Jalin Moore 3 run (Trejo kick), 4:42
Second Quarter
Crest – Jalin Moore 1 run (Trejo kick), 4:08
Southern – Jason Henderson 11 pass from Kendall Hinton (Leonardo Orozco kick), 0:11
Third Quarter
Southern – Maurice Trowell 42 pass from Kendall Hinton (Orozco kick), 5:11
Southern – Safety, Alex Trejo recovers bad punt snap out of end zone, 3:04
Fourth Quarter
Southern – Toney Bass 6 run (Jordan Brown pass from Kendall Hinton), 11:31
Crest – Tre Harbison 12 run (Trejo kick), 6:53
Southern – Maurice Trowell 32 pass from Kendall Hinton (Kick blocked), 5:41
Crest – FG Alex Trejo 40, 1:08
Southern – Jordan Brown 80 pass from Kendall Hinton (Maurice Trowell pass from Hinton), 0:57

RUSHING – Southern, Kendall Hinton 12-47, Jordan Brown 10-44, Toney Bass 3-8, Derrick Mason 1-(minus 9). Crest, Jalin Moore 30-183, Tre Harbison 21-128, P.J. Brooks 12-32, Team 2-(minus 30).

PASSING – Southern, Kendall Hinton 17-25-0 332, Derrick Mason 0-1-0 0. Crest, P.J. Brooks 4-5-1 31, Jordan Oates 0-1-0 0, Jalin Moore 1-1-0 8.

RECEIVING – Southern, Maurice Trowell 8-198, Jordan Brown 5-113, Jason Henderson 2-12, Kerry Ivory 1-5, Derrick Mason 1-4. Crest, Jordan Oates 2-24, P.J. Brooks 1-8, Quentin Thompson 1-7, Tre Harbison 1-0.

Records – Southern 14-2, Crest 14-2.