Two Big 8 – 3A Conference rivals stood toe to toe and presented an epic battle on the Southern Durham gridiron with the Orange Panthers edging a determined group of Southern Spartans 16-15 in front a 4 deep standing room only crowd. The Spartans coming in with a record of 1-5 on the year played as if they were 5-1 in front of a standing room only crowd at Southern Durham High School and gave the fans every bit of what they paid to see.
The Panthers struck early in the first quarter with senior quarterback Brendan Huss connecting on a 21 yard touchdown pass to Tarheel commit Payton Wilson. Both teams seemed to evenly trade turnovers and penalties until the Spartans answered with an impressive drive in the 2nd quarter knotting the game at 7 when freshman quarterback Amari Smith connected on a 56 yard touchdown strike to wide receiver J’on Brown. Tailback/slotback Taronald Beaufort kept the Spartan drives alive all evening with dynamic running between the tackles.
The Panthers struck again in the 2nd quarter when tailback Marvante Beasley darted in the end zone from the 4 yard line. However, a missed point after put the Panthers up by 6 at halftime. From the 2nd half kickoff the rest of the game both teams generated enough excitement to make the sellout crowd sway and the announcers hoarse. The craziness began on the kickoff to open the second half when Senior Panther Marvante Beasley picked up the kickoff at the one yard line and tried to outrun a sea of Spartans by running backwards into the endzone. The Spartans gang tackled Beasley in the end zone for a safety generating two points and a momentum turning free kick back to the Spartans. The action of the game went ballistic as both teams traded interceptions, penalties, along with spectacular plays on both the rushing and receiving sides of the ball. The Spartans took the lead when quarterback Amari Smith connected on another 55 yard touchdown pass on sideline pattern where the Spartan receive literally stole the ball out of the air en route to the score. The point after attempt by #36 Bacardi Byfield was missed, however, the safety that opened the 2nd half put the Spartans on top 15 – 13 to start the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was a battle of wills generating a literal standoff between both teams until Panther quarterback Brendan Huss connected on 13 yard pass to #3 Kendall Whitted and the senior wide receiver broke several tackles and scampered down the side line until he was pushed out of bounds at the Spartan 9 yard line. The stubborn Spartan defense would not yield standing toe to toe with the Panthers on an impressive final goal line stand. However Panther place kicker #36 Francisco McKinley was good on a 17 yard field goal putting the Panthers in front 16-15. A final effort by the Spartans fell short when quarterback Amari Smith’s attempted pass was deemed a fumble during a Panther sack. The Panthers ran the clock out in victory formation leaving a sellout crowd wanting more of what these two great football teams delivered on this fall Friday night in Durham.
The Panthers return home to Hillsborough on October 6th when they host the Northern Knights. The much improved Spartans head to Hillside to face the Hillside Hornets.
The 97.9 The Hill broadcast crew head to Cedar Ridge on October 6th to broadcast the Cedar Ridge Redwolves and the Chapel Hill Tigers.
Our game of the week halftime guest was UNC Diamond Heel Assistant Coach Jesse Wierzbicki.
Listen to head coach Van Smith of the Orange Panthers and head coach Darius Robinson of the Southern Spartans Pre-broadcast interviews as aired Friday, Sept 29th, 2017.
Coach Van Smith discusses this week’s conference rivalry game as the Panthers take on the Southern Spartans
Coach Darius Robinson of the Southern Spartans discusses his team’s preparation as they host the Orange Panthers this Friday night in Durham.