HILLSIDE ATOP PAC-6
Hillside senior running back Donté Thomas-Williams is now a part of the 1,000-yard club after rushing for 130 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Hornets to a 35-13 PAC-6 4-A home win over Northern Friday.
Thomas-Williams came into the game with 116 carries for 966 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The victory is Hillside’s 26th straight in PAC-6 play and keeps the team undefeated in the conference with just two games remaining in the regular season.
Northern entered the game tied with Hillside at 2-0 in the PAC-6.
Hillside’s defense held the Knights to 38 rushing yards and intercepted starting quarterback Zaaqhai Mann three times, two of them by Kalen McCain who will play at N.C. State next year.
Hillside (6-2, 3-0 PAC-6) trailed 7-0 early before scoring 35 straight points. A late Northern touchdown, however, did not sit well with Coach Antonio King.
“We had the game in hand, but they (Northern) kept up the intensity and our reserves were not prepared,” King said. “That is not a sign of a good championship team.”
Northern took its 7-0 lead when linebacker Atavion Oliver intercepted quarterback Nas Forté-Ferguson and took it 25 yards for the score.
But Hillside’s defense came alive and shut out the Knights until the third quarter. Meanwhile, the offense got into rhythm and scored touchdowns on each of its next four possessions.
Thomas-Williams tied the game with a 1-yard plunge with 10 minutes left in the half. Thomas-Williams’ backup, Raquaz Brannon, gave the Hornets a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a 5-yard run to cap a 12-play 62-yard drive.
McCain intercepted Mann and returned the ball to the Northern 36. Thomas-Williams scored three plays later from 14 yards out.
“I saw on film where they run that play a lot, so I knew it was coming and saw the ball,” McCain said.
The Hornets’ special teams also came up big with a blocked punt with 1:15 left in the half. Hillside needed just four seconds to build a commanding 28-7 lead on Forté-Ferguson’s nine-yard strike to Trevion Thompson.
McCain’s second interception — at the Knight 38 in the third quarter — set up Thomas-Williams’s third touchdown.
Back-up quarterback Griffin Baker got Northern (2-7, 2-1) on the scoreboard in the second half with a 21-yard pass to Alphonso Gbojueh.
Northern coach R.J. Wilson said his team has played one of the toughest schedules in 4-A football — its first six games, all losses, were against teams with a combined 42-5 record — and it’s beginning to pay off.
“We are coming together,” Wilson said. “The tough nonconference schedule build character and strengthens the team. We would love to see some wins, but we are building as a team.”
HILLSIDE 35, NORTHERN 13
Hillside 0 28 7 0 — 35
Northern 7 0 0 6 — 13
N—Atavion Oliver 25 INT (TJ Milby kick), 4:20
H—Donté Thomas-Williams 1 run (Ian Burris kick), 9:58
H—Raquaz Brannon 5 run (Burris kick), 4:21
H—D. Thomas-Williams 14 run (Burris kick), 2:51
H—Trevion Thompson pass from Nas Forté-Ferguson (Burris kick), 1:11
H—D. Thomas 1 run (Burris kick), 3:13
N—Alphonso Gbojueh pass from Griffin Baker (kick failed), 6:33
RUSHING—Hillside, Donté Thomas-Williams 25-130, Raquaz Brannon 14-77, Nas Forté-Ferguson 4-(minus-15), Raquan McCall 4-16, Marcus Krah 1-17, DeJahrie Roberts 2-10. Northern, Zaaqhai Mann 16-51, Alphonso Gbojueh 9-5, Marcus Starr 3-0, Deshon Holmes 2-1.
PASSING—Hillside, Nas Forté-Ferguson 7-22-1 81. Northern, Zaaqhai Mann, 0-8-3 0, Griffin Baker 2-5-0 23.
RECEIVING—Hillside, Trevion Thompson 7-81. Northern Alphonso Gbojueh 1-21, Marcus Starr 1-2.
Records — Northern 2-7, 2-1 PAC-6 4-A; Hillside 6-2, 3-0 PAC-6.