BAILEY – Almost more out of relief than excitement, Southern Nash center Trevor Phelps walked on to the field Monday night and exclaimed, “Longest halftime ever.”
Indeed, it was.
Quarterback Deon Lavender noticed it, too. There was a lacking enthusiasm in the air, which still was partially lit by the sun – definitely not a football atmosphere at Southern Nash High School.
After a two-day halftime break caused by lightning, the Firebirds showed that their play was as different as the atmospheres in which they competed with a 35-28 victory against Wilson Fike in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.
“Any win you can get is a good win,” said Southern Nash coach Brian Foster, who received a water cooler bath after the game. “It doesn’t matter if it’s ugly, pretty, whatever. A win is a win.”
Southern Nash couldn’t step out of its own way Friday.
On Monday, Wilson Fike wasn’t going to stay in it.
Southern Nash (5-1, 1-0 Big East) struggled Friday to not make the big mistakes. The Firebirds gave possession to Wilson Fike (1-5, 1-0) three times inside the Southern Nash 25-yard line.
All three times the Golden Demons scored.
But on Monday, the offense stopped handing easy touchdowns to Wilson Fike, and the defense stood strong.
Aside from a 53-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, the Southern Nash defense allowed just 11 yards in the second half.
“We got after it pretty good,” Foster said. “I was proud of the guys about that.”
Desmond Jackson, who moved from cornerback to outside linebacker this season, picked off a pass to end the third quarter to set up Southern Nash’s final touchdown – a 20-yard Rashid Campbell run.
After Wilson Fike’s big play, Firebirds linebacker Alonte Thomas forced a fumble and then recovered the loose ball to allow Southern Nash to run out the clock – after one last fourth-down conversion.
“They did what they were coached to do and didn’t try to do too much,” Foster said of the defense.
While the Firebirds were able to adjust mentally, they also were able to make strategic adjustments.
One play in particular, which Southern Nash ran three straight times on its first drive, started the scoring.
Richard Hall, who also plays linebacker for Southern Nash, was able to slip out behind a blitzing linebacker.
Lavender, who accounted for four touchdowns, found him three times, including the final 21-yard screen pass.
“We came out here and did it,” Phelps said.
Southern Nash offensive lineman Cameron Gardner, who has committed to Wake Forest, dislocated his thumb during the game.
Foster was unsure if Gardner could return for Friday’s game against Northern Nash.
Southern Nash 35
Wilson Fike 28
SN 7 14 7 7 – 35
WF 7 14 0 7 – 28
WF – Jorelle Farmer 5 run (Drayton Williams kick), 9:28
SN – Deon Lavender 3 run (Sergio Penaloza kick), 5:54
WF – Farmer 7 run (Williams kick), 10:32
SN – Taylor Finch 75 run (Penaloza kick), 10:19
SN – Corey Schulz 12 pass from Lavender (Penaloza kick), 7:27
WF – Sam Ellis 6 run (Williams kick), 3:48
SN – Richard Hall 21 pass from Lavender (Penloza kick), 5:34
SN – Rashid Campbell 15 run (Penaloza kick), 8:30
WF – Alcindor Winstead 53 pass from Ellis (Williams kick), 7:53
7 First downs..............16
50 Passing yards............64
196 Total offense.........287
Rushing – WF: Jorelle Farmer 17-78; Sam Ellis 18-50; Anthony Evans 3-10; Shakka Blackston 2-7. SN: Taylor Finch 11-115; Rashid Campbell 11-55; Deon Lavender 8-27; Sebastian Oneal 9-19; Desmon Jackson 2-9.
Passing – WF: Ellis 2-6-1 50. SN: Lavender 5-10-2 64.
Receiving – WF: Alcindor Winstead 1-53; Farmer 1-(-3). SN: Richard Hall 4-52; Corey Shulz 1-12.