By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Southern Alamance barely gave Eastern Alamance a chance in their Central 3-A Conference showdown.
The Patriots pretty much didn’t let Eastern play.
Using a ball-control offense to an extreme and the punishing running of Logan Foust’s 46-carry effort, Southern snatched the 14-7 road victory Thursday night to secure at least a share of the league title.
“We earned that,” Patriots coach Fritz Hessenthaler said.
Foust scored both Southern touchdowns and racked up 265 rushing yards. The high-powered Eastern offense had 99 total yards.
“It’s tiring, but that’s just our football,” Foust said. “We’re physical. Hand the ball off and we just try to get a couple of yards every play and we dominate.”
Southern (8-1 overall, 5-0 Central 3-A Conference) clinched the league’s top seed for next month’s Class 3-A state playoffs.
Two-time defending champion Eastern (7-2, 3-2) took only 10 first-half snaps and 28 plays for the game. The game lasted less than two hours.
“They were going to play keep-away and they did a great job of that,” Eastern coach John Kirby said.
In comparison, Southern put together a 23-play possession that lasted 12 minutes, 49 seconds in the first half – and didn’t score.
“We weren’t left with many opportunities,” Eastern quarterback Jason Ball said. “The few we had, we didn’t capitalize. They beat us fair and square.”
The Eagles regained possession at their own 5-yard line with 5:56 to play, with Kater Cornwell’s interception of Ball coming two plays later. Eastern had another crack at it beginning at their own 20 with 33.8 seconds to go.
Two first downs later, a desperation gadget play came unraveled and the Patriots recovered a fumble to seal the outcome.
So when called upon, the Patriots had the defense, too.
“When we got on the field, we made it count,” Cornwell said.
The game’s first possession was rather tame by Southern’s standards. The Patriots went 80 yards in 11 plays, using 5:44 and scoring on Foust’s 1-yard plunge.
Then came that massive drive that didn’t yield points. Twice, would-be touchdown plays were nixed because of penalties. On fourth-and-goal from the 5, Landon Dodson connected with Jackson Parrish, who was stopped a yard short of the end zone by Eastern’s Payton Wright.
The Eagles finally notched their first two first downs of the game, but ended up punting. With 1:38 to play, Southern had the ball at its own 49 and immediately moved into Eastern territory.
Then in a hurry-up situation, Dodson’s throw was picked off by Zephaniah Gattis, who went 70 yards untouched as the clock expired to end the half.
Southern had a 29-point, fourth-quarter lead vanish a few weeks earlier before recovering to beat Roxboro Person. That offered perspective for the sudden halftime tie Thursday night.
“It wasn’t that big of a shock,” Hessenthaler said. “What looks to be a dogfight, but we had been dominating. That was just seven points.”
The halftime message to the Patriots: “Now they got to handle it for another 24 minutes,” Hessenthaler said.
Eastern had other ideas by receiving the second-half kickoff.
“Our plan was to go score after half,” Ball said. “We had the momentum.”
Instead, six plays later the Eagles punted. It was nearly 8½ minutes before they touched the ball again, with Foust going 4 yards for a touchdown to end a 14-play, 60-yard grind.
“They blew us off the ball,” Kirby said. “We never got untracked.”
Yet Southern had two drives thwarted inside the Eastern 5 and another advance to the Eagles’ 12 before fizzling. The inability to finish with more points disturbed Hessenthaler.
“We have things to work on,” he said. “It’s nice not to play well and beat a very, very good Eastern Alamance team.”
Williams 49, Cedar Ridge 7: Dan Mahan was credited with four touchdown passes and a scoring run as Williams moved alone into second place in the Central 3-A Conference.
The Bulldogs (7-2, 4-1) built a 42-0 halftime lead in the regular-season home finale at Burlington Memorial Stadium. Haneef Rasheed II scored twice on tosses from Mahan, who completed seven total passes. Will Cooper and William Overby had the other TD receptions.
Mahan, Amarion Richmond and Kyrian Fuller ran for touchdowns.
Cedar Ridge’s season ended at 0-10, 0-6.
Southeast Alamance 55, Graham 8: Daniel Bunker ran for four touchdowns as Southeast pushed its winning streak to five games to have a chance at Mid-Carolina Conference championship by winning in its first home game in more than a month.
Ryan Dodson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another for the Stallions (6-3, 6-1), who’ll play for a conference title when Cummings visits for the regular-season finale.
Bunker’s production came as part of seven carries for 77 yards. Dodson threw for 264 yards, completing 10 of 15 passes.
Jerry Sims had four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown and Drew Easter made a TD catch. Cardell West scored on a fumble return for a touchdown. Antonio Williamson intercepted two passes.
Graham (1-8, 1-6) continued to struggle.
Western Alamance has a Friday night home date with Roxboro Person as originally scheduled.
Cummings’ regular-season home finale with North Moore has been reset for 6:30 p.m. Monday.