Ejections, injuries to half its starting unit, rain, a technically-meaningless game, a Nash Central squad that just wouldn’t make it easy – none of it has rattled Southern Nash.
The Firebirds outlasted a Nash Central squad fighting for its playoffs life Friday, leaving Nash Central High School with a 38-36 victory on the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.
“In all the the years I’ve been coaching, I’ve never had a team like this,” Foster said. “I’ve been coaching football here since 1990 and I’ve coached girls’ track, but never had a team – it’s like nothing fazes them.”
The Firebirds (8-2, 4-1 Big Eats Conference) once again played without three offensive lineman and lost defensive tackle Francisco Trejo during the course of the game, meaning all four of the defensive linemen with whom the Firebirds began the season now are injured.
Nash Central (3-7, 1-4) did well to limit the Firebirds’ double-wing, double-tight system. The Bulldogs held Southern Nash running back Rashid Campbell to 77 yards on 22 carries, and with the exception of Taylor Finch’s 59-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, slowed the Firebirds’ powerful rushing attack.
Jarius Richardson had a monster night for Nash Central, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a receiving touchdown and two 2-point conversions.
Yet again, though, the story was the same for Nash Central: Close, but just out of reach.
“If you go back and look at this tape, it’s the same thing we’ve been talking about all year: Not enough plays,” Nash Central coach Kevin Crudup said. “We always got close, but we couldn’t make that extra play or two to get us a win.
“Four games (in the Big East) that we could have won with just a couple more plays. That was the story of our season.”
Adding to Southern Nash’s troubles, the officials ejected top receiver Chi-Ali Bunn from the game in the third quarter after an altercation on the Nash Central sideline in which the official said Bunn kicked a Nash Central player.
Foster said the Firebirds’ sideline thought the Nash Central player would not let go of Bunn’s leg, which caused him to remove his leg with force. Bunn will receive a two-game suspension and miss the first two rounds of the playoffs should the Firebirds advance that far.
Foster was unsure if Southern Nash would appeal the suspension.
Nash Central came within one score four different times in the game but it never led.
“It was just devotion for us,” Southern Nash’s Desmon Jackson said. “We’re a bunch of fighters. Every time they punched, we counter-punched. That’s how I look at it.”
Nash Central had slim hopes of making the playoffs, but it needed a victory to do so.
The Bulldogs ultimately came up one victory short of the four victories they would have needed to secure an at-large bid.
The Firebirds, the No. 2 seed out of the Big East, do not know which team they will face in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs, but they are almost certain they will have to go on the road.
The bracket will be announced some time this afternoon.
“No matter what, we have to try to get healthy,” Foster said. “We’re missing a lot.”
Southern Nash 38 Nash Central 36 SN 7 17 0 14 – 38 NC 0 14 7 15 – 36 First Quarter SN – Deon Lavender 1 run (Sergio Penaloza kick); 1:46 Second Quarter SN – Penaloza 27 field goal; 6:16 NC – Jarius Richardson 54 run (Richardson conversion run); 4:45 SN – Desmon Jackson 3 run (Penaloza kick); 1:54 NC – Richardson 7 run (kick fails); 0:37 SN – Chi-Ali Bunn 10 pass from Lavender (Penaloza kick); 0:00 Third Quarter NC – Khalil Macklin 2 run (Matt Barfield kick); 5:49 Fourth Quarter SN – Rashid Campbell 7 run (Penaloza kick); 11:21 NC – Richardson 23 pass from Macklin (Matt Barfield kick); 10:07 SN – Taylor Finch 59 run (Penaloza kick); 9:08 NC – Jaquan Wilkins 37 pass from Tyler Barrow (Richardson conversion run); 1:01 SNNC 17 First downs...............11 44–279 Rushes-yards.....32–253 108 Passing yards........96 6–10–0 Passes.................5–9–1 108 Total offense..........349 2–0 Fumbles-Lost.........2–0 8–56 Penalties-Yards......9–70 Individual Statistics Rushing – SN: Finch 7-77; Campbell 21-71; Lavender 9-35; Jackson 4-18; Richard Hall 1-7; Sebastian O’Neal 1-3; Team 2-(-3). NC: Jarius Richardson 17-143; Jardo Richardson 7-66; Macklin 8-14. Passing – SN: Lavender 5-9-1, 76; Jackson 1-1-0, 42. NC: Barrow 4-6-1, 73; Macklin 1-3-1, 23. Receiving – SN: Bunn 2-52; Jackson 2-44; Hall 2-22. NC: Jaquan Wilkins 4-73; Jarius Richardson 1-23.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org