Shootout goes Southern’s way

Dec. 14, 2013 @ 11:38 PM

The game turned into a shootout.

Crest ran out of bullets.

That’s how Southern won the 3-AA championship, the first state title in the history of the school.

After five lead changes in the fourth quarter, Southern emerged with a 38-31 win over Crest at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem on Saturday.

The game was dramatic. It was emotional.

“It was enjoyable,” Southern coach Adrian Jones said.

Jones at the postgame podium was flanked by Southern quarterback Kendall Hinton, the game’s most valuable player, and Spartans wide receiver Maurice Trowell, who was voted Southern’s most outstanding offensive player with eight catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

Hinton threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns, none of them more colossal than the one to running back Jordan Brown. That exchange went for 80 yards and determined the game.

It was a cruel play, Crest coach Mark Barnes said. 

“The tragedy of this game for our program is the play that beat us,” Barnes said. “It wasn’t a play where we got outplayed. It was a play where we fell down — we just had a guy fall down.”

This past Monday, Barnes specifically said that Crest could not afford to get into trading points with Southern. That was a sure way for the Chargers to go back to Cleveland County on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Barnes said.

The Chargers’ game plan was to slow down the Southern offense that has been erupting for points the way active volcanoes spew lava. Crest wanted to ground it and pound it. Which wasn’t anything new. That’s what Crest is all about, and Southern understood that yet still couldn’t stop it early on.

Southern looked like the same old Spartans on the first play of the game when Hinton and Trowell got together for a 49-yard pass play to the Crest 23-yard line.

But explosive Southern didn’t score. And that was different. The Spartans normally strike first.

Crest got the ball and — its receivers mostly decorating the edges — began to drive the ball down the field, run after run after run, building a 21-7 halftime lead.

Those seven points by Southern toward the end of the first half, though, made the difference in the ball game, Barnes said.

“We were up 21 to nothing, and we’ve got total control of the game,” Barnes recalled. “That was a big drive, gave ’em some hope, because they were beat.

“They were beaten down emotionally.”

No they weren’t, Trowell said.

“I knew we were gonna have a chance to come back,” Trowell said. “We’ve been down before.”

A team had better have way more than a 14-point lead to beat Southern, Jones said.

This right here was Southern’s mantra all season: “If something good happens, keep playing,” Jones said. “If something bad happens, keep playing.”

Jones, Trowell and Hinton all said that the mood was calm in Southern’s locker room at halftime.

The Spartans made some adjustments on defense to do something about those 248 first-half rushing yards by Crest, and it was on, Jones said.

“We knew they were going to run the ball,” Jones said. “We had to bring the safety down in the box and shift a couple of D-linemen, and everything, to make sure that we stopped the run.

“We had to shade our defensive end out a little bit. He was getting logged down, so we just had to make a couple of simple adjustments and brought our safeties in the box to help out.”

Earlier in the season, it didn’t seem like Crest had the goods to make it to the title game, Barnes said.

Yet from Day 1, Southern’s first state championship was the only thing Jones talked about.

“It was something about (Saturday night) that I thought we were going to handle adversity, and we did,” Jones said.