By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
After having control of Friday night’s game in the Class 3-A state playoffs for so long, the Southern Alamance football team needed one more play.
The ball was in the air and the season hung in the balance.
That’s when Southern Alamance defensive back Bradley Capps made it to Jacksonville receiver Ra-shawn Echols just in time on the side of the end zone on a fourth-down play in overtime.
“It was my man,” Capps said. “Hit him hard enough to make him (lose the ball).”
The outcome was Southern’s 25-19 victory, capping a chaotic first full week since the dismissal of coach Fritz Hessenthaler.
[Playoff story continues below.]
See stories on Southern coach’s firing: https://alamancenews.com/complete-coverage-on-the-firing-of-shs-football-head-coach-fritz-hessenthaler/
The third-seeded Patriots (11-1) overcame that off-field matter and the shock of giving up a touchdown as the clock expired to end regulation followed by Jacksonville’s two-point conversion run to tie the game.
Running back Logan Foust, who had a record-setting game, then ran the hard yards in overtime, scoring on a 3-yard run.
But No. 14 seed Jacksonville (9-2) still had its turn in overtime. Facing fourth-and-11, the Cardinals tried to get the ball to Echols, who seemed set to make the catch before Capps intervened.
“Man, what a play,” acting Southern coach Chris Miller said.
Next is a third-round home game against No. 27 seed Fayetteville Sanford, a 43-22 winner at No. 11 seed Harnett Central, on Friday night.
Dissecting the latest victory comes in various parts.
Foust ran for a single-game school-record 283 yards on 40 carries, breaking his mark of 272 yards earlier this year vs. Williams. He had a touchdown run of 61 yards in the second quarter.
“We still got the job done,” Foust said. “I know I’m going to have to do my thing. The O-line did a great job because those were big boys from Jacksonville.”
All seemed good for the Patriots at that point. They took the game’s opening possession and chewed up 8:57, marching 80 yards on 15 plays – aided by a third-down personal foul on Jacksonville – and scoring on Jackson Parrish’ 3-yard run. Foust ran for the two-point conversion.
Southern stopped Jacksonville’s first drive at the 1-yard line on a fourth-down stand. Two possessions later, Foust had his long run, with Parrish running for the two-point conversion. Parrish finished with 73 yards on 13 carries.
The Cardinals opened the second half with a touchdown drive.
Next came an oddity. The Patriots drove 63 yards, stalling on the Jacksonville 10-yard line. So out came Tristan Lyle for the Patriots’ first field goal attempt of the season. It was good from 27 yards for a 19-8 edge.
“It turned out to be big,” Miller said.
Britt Glover’s 37-yarder for Jacksonville made it 19-11 with 6:56 remaining.
Then Southern kept the ball until 1:10 remained, with the Cardinals taking the ball at their own 35 and out of timeouts.
They moved efficiently and benefitted from a pair of Southern pass interference penalties. It was fourth down from the 10-yard line with five seconds to go on the final snap of regulation. Echols got free for the touchdown catch. Quarterback Amaree Barber ran in the two-point conversion.
But Southern’s defense had a chance for redemption in overtime.
Jacksonville had scored more than 40 points in six of its previous seven games.
“To hold that team with the athletes they had,” Miller said. “You just worry you don’t have enough points.”
The Patriots figured they had enough pride. With Hessenthaler no longer with the team based on a decision from the Alamance-Burlington School System school superintendent Dr. Dain Butler – a decision that has been termed a personnel matter, but sparked protests at the district’s central office during the week – advancing in the playoffs was the ideal tonic.
“Losing your head coach is hard,” Capps said.
“We focused on football and nothing else,” linebacker Kaleb Franklin said. “I’m excited for the next round.”
Fayetteville Seventy-First 40, Williams 20: In Class 3-A at Fayetteville, the No. 15 seed Bulldogs couldn’t catch up, losing in a second-round road game for the third year in a row – and at the same site as the 2021 finale.
Amarion Richmond scored two touchdowns for Williams (9-3). The other touchdown came on Dan Mahan’s pass to Andrew Cruz.
The second-seeded Falcons (12-0) led 21-6 at halftime. Richmond scored on a 1-yard run for Williams’ first-half points.
See story this week on 2nd/3rd generation father-son connection with the Spoon family and Williams football: https://alamancenews.com/spoons-savor-father-son-connection-with-williams-football/