Durham, N.C. — The Southern Durham Spartans earned a trip to the 3-AA football state championship for the second time in three years Friday night, and all they needed was a dominant defensive performance, and for their star offensive player–Jordon Brown–to step significantly outside of his comfort zone.
Both things happened at Durham County Stadium as the three-seed Spartans held the 13-seed Northern Guilford Nighthawks scoreless in the second half to become champions of the eastern region.
“I’ve had a lot of great moments in my life, but this right here is one of the top ones that I think I’ll experience for the rest of my life, because these young boys tonight, kept fighting, kept fighting, and they beat all the odds,” said Southern Durham head coach Darius Robinson.
Brown, a UNC recruit who usually plays receiver and running back for the Spartans, took the majority of snaps at quarterback after Southern lost Jalen Greene to injury in the third round of the postseason. Brown scored the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes remaining in the third quarter on a keeper play up the middle.
“Jordon Brown will do whatever we need him to do to get the win,” said Robinson. “I told him, I said, ‘Jordon, for two more weeks, I need you to do one of the greatest things that anybody in high school football can do: get us to Chapel Hill, and win it.'”
After taking the lead, the Spartans still had to fight off the Nighthawks for one more quarter of football. Northern Guilford engineered a long drive to start the fourth and chewed up most of the game’s remaining clock. With 1:45 remaining, the Nighthawks turned the ball over on downs at the Southern Durham 28 yard line.
The Spartans then went three-and-out, giving Northern Guilford one more chance to win the game. With less than a minute left, Southern’s Kaleb Barfield came up with his third interception of the night to seal the game.
“All year, people have been saying our defense isn’t the best, but we just wanted to show people we can make plays when we need to,” Barfield said.
Southern Durham will play the Crest Chargers in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-AA state championship Saturday, Dec. 12 in Kenan Stadium on the campus of North Carolina. Southern defeated Crest in the 2013 state championship.
Brown helped put together a long drive for the Spartans on their second possession of the game, and he handed the ball off to Myron Frazier Jr. in the red zone to give Southern its first lead of the night at 7-0.
The Nighthawks responded later in the quarter on a 25-yard passing touchdown from Miles Timmons to Tristen Simmons. Northern Guilford converted the ensuing two-point conversion attempt to take a 8-7 lead.
Southern came up with two interceptions on consecutive drives to keep the Spartans in the game. After the second of the two, Brown aired the ball out to Barfield, who put his stamp on the offensive side of the ball as well. Southern went up 13-8.
The Nighthawks got a long return on the following kickoff, and CJ Freeman needed one rush to give Northern Guilford a 15-13 lead at halftime.
“I told them at halftime: 24 minutes and we’re going to Chapel Hill,” Robinson said. “They said, ‘Coach, we got your back.’ And they had my back.”
The defending-champion Nighthawks end their season with a 10-5 overall record. The team beat Corinth Holders, Asheboro and Terry Sanford–all by double digits–to make it to the regional championship.
Dec. 12’s 3-AA championship between Southern and Crest in Chapel Hill will be played at 12:05 p.m.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT
,Southern Durham held Northern Guilford scoreless in the second half Friday night to punch a ticket to the 3-AA state championship.
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