Southern caps intense week of practice with surprise win
On paper, Southern Vance’s 22-14 upset of South Granville Friday doesn’t make much sense.
The Raiders had dropped four consecutive games. The Vikings were rolling, winners of six straight on their way to cracking the Associated Press 2-A state high school football poll.
South Granville entered having scored 67 points in a win over Franklinton the previous week. But the Vikings’ offense was held in check Friday by a fired-up Raider defense that forced two interceptions and put pressure on quarterback Matt McCutcheon throughout the evening.
“Deon Smith, Sheldon Smith, William Henderson — Those guys were just fantastic out there,” Southern head coach Lewis Young said of his defenders.
McCutcheon was 12-of-29 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Ty-Traveon Roberts and Sheldon Smith each came up with interceptions for Southern (3-5, 1-1 Northern Carolina Conference) and Smith returned a pick 40 yards for a score in the third quarter to put the Raiders up 14-7.
“This changes the season a lot,” said Roberts, who threw two touchdown passes as the starting quarterback. “I know that a lot of people doubted us and said that we couldn’t do it. It’s just hard work. We had a great week of practice, the hardest week of practice we’ve ever had.”
Deon Smith came up with a tackle in the end zone in the first quarter to force a safety and Henderson and Juwan Harris each registered sacks.
South Granville (6-2, 1-1) lost two fumbles and committed 10 penalties.
The Raiders were also far from perfect, committing four turnovers including three interceptions with 16 penalties of their own.
Roberts, a senior, was the starter at quarterback when the season started, but has been pushed in the last few weeks by sophomore Jerry Throckmorton.
Despite the picks, Roberts came up with some big throws, finding senior Shawn Henderson twice for touchdowns. He also had close to 100 yards rushing.
The second passing touchdown, on a drive set up by Emmanuelle Simirl’s fumble recovery at South Granville’s 31-yard-line, was from 19 yards and Roberts and Shawn Henderson connected again on the conversion to make it 22-7 with 7:02 to play.
Young said he thinks Roberts has grabbed the quarterback position back.
“We have a good chemistry, a good relationship on the field with each other,” Shawn Henderson said of he and Roberts. “That’s how we complete a lot of passes and score a lot of touchdowns.”
“We’re tight like glue,” added Roberts. “Shawn is just a go-getter. All my receivers are different. It’s a specific thing they all can do different. That’s what makes us the Southern Vance team that we can be.”
The two league favorites, Bunn and South Granville, are now out of the way for Southern, which hosts Warren County this week. Then it’s Roanoke Rapids and Franklinton to close the season.
And just like that, the Raiders are back in the race for a state playoff berth, at least.
“All the while I believed in our team,” said Young. “Knocking out the No. 1 team in the conference is real big for us. And of course now, we’re trying to win out.”
SV — Shawn Henderson 32-yard pass from Ty-Traveon Roberts (kick failed), 10:05.
SV — Safety, 5:24.
SG — Sean Bowman 15-yard run (Kaleb Chamberlain kick), 8:32.
SV — Sheldon Smith 40-yard interception return (kick failed), 5:46.
SV — Henderson 19-yard pass from Roberts (Henderson from Roberts), 7:02.
SG — C.J. Hurt 9-yard pass from Matt McCutcheon (Chamberlain kick), 0:44.
RUSHING — SG, Sean Bowman 8-89 1TD, Earl Green 10-36, Craig Wilkie 1-34, Matt McCutcheon 3-(-25); SV, Ty-Traveon Roberts 16-97, Qualik Shearin 22-57, Sheldon Smith 1-0, Maurice Howard 2-3.
PASSING — SG, McCutcheon 12-29-93 1TD; SV, Roberts 5-16-116 2TD.
RECEIVING — SG, Wilkie 3-31, Green 5-21, Omari Armstrong 1-2, Hurt 1-9 1TD, Abraham Barron 2-30; SV, Deon Smith 3-25, Jeremiah Williams 1-59, Shawn Henderson 2-51 2 TDs.
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