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In staring at a 35-0 halftime deficit, SouthWest Edgecombe varsity football players and coaches dealt with the reality a championship season was about to be ended by visiting North Davidson in the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-AA playoffs last Friday night.
Adding to the Cougars’ anguish was the possibility of being dealt the worst postseason loss in the program’s illustrious history.
Head coach Jonathan Cobb’s halftime message:
“I told them that I loved them,” Cobb said, “and no matter what happened, I was proud of them. BUT I did expect them to play much better in the second half.”
The Cougars responded by outscoring North Davidson 28-21 the final two quarters and narrowing the margin of defeat to 56-28. Most important from SouthWest’s standpoint was winning the fourth quarter, 14-7.
“They were very good at what they do,” SouthWest senior quarterback Jayden Lewis commended North Davidson. “All we wanted to do was come out fighting and never give up. We never lose the fourth quarter. We came out and won the second half.”
“Winning the second half means a lot,” added senior defensive mainstay Jelan Smith.
Cobb concluded: “We asked them to fight, fight and have pride — have pride in the team and the program. They showed what big hearts they’ve got.”
COULDN’T BELIEVE IT
North Davidson’s ability to construct a 35-0 halftime lead left the Cougars dazed and dismayed. They were all but helpless against the Black Knights’ run-pass option.
Cobb’s suspicions that SouthWest was vulnerable to the pass were confirmed.
“We were a little excited at the beginning, but we played hard,” Smith reviewed. “I depend on my brothers.
“But I couldn’t believe it. We practiced against it all week. They were just a really good passing team. Their tackles were also good and they were strong and aggressive.”
Cobb acknowledged that North Davidson’s defense won the physical battle against SouthWest’s offensive line. The Cougars were limited to a season-low 157 yards total offense.
PRIVILEGE TO COACH
In the second half, SouthWest capitalized to score a pair of gift TDs and also scored twice on sustained drives. The defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass. Junior wide receiver Keishon Porter caught three TD passes in spectacular fashion.
The Cougars compiled a 11-3 record and reign as 2-A Eastern Plains Conference champions. The third-round appearance was their first since 2015.
Memorable moments were there.
“It was a privilege to coach these kids, and I haven’t always been able to say that,” Cobb expressed. “We had special senior leaders that coached their peers all year. We had special juniors that were leaders also. They understood the big picture all year. They always handled adversity the right way.”
SouthWest was the last team left standing in The Wilson Times readership area.
“We hate to go out at this point,” Cobb assured. “But at the end of the day, we can look back and be mighty proud of this football team. And we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
SouthWest players applauded an atmosphere created by a turnout in excess of 1,000 on a mild Friday evening.
However, the North Davidson delegation nearly matched home team representation in numbers. That aspect disappointed Cobb.
“Their crowd was louder than ours and the homefield advantage was negated,” Cobb contended. “We have some loyals fans and we really appreciate all of those who were here.
“But to be playing in the third round of the playoffs and see the stands still half full is disappointing. Our kids deserve better than that from the community.”
North Davidson head coach Brian Flynn proudly noted junior quarterback Landon Moore had at its dispensal “4, 5, 6, 7, maybe 8 weapons” in the team’s victory against SouthWest Edgecombe.
Flynn, in fact, completed passes to eight receivers in hitting 32-of-39 attempts for 355 yards and six touchdowns.
Sophomore Jamarien Dalton snagged eight receptions for 103 yards, junior Mason Everhart seven for 57, senior Themus Fulks six for 61, senior Jackson Ferrell three for 49, sophomore Brady Gum 4 for 51, senior R.J. Yokley 1 for 30, senior Raymond Patrick 1 for 13 and junior Chris Utt one for 9.