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After a thrilling 27-20 victory Friday night over the Orange Panthers in the second round of the Class 2-AA playoffs, the South Brunswick Cougars will play Marshville Forest Hills (10-3) this Friday.
“Overall the kids did a great job,” an ecstatic Gordon Walters said Saturday. “Can you believe we are 10-2? The kids really follow the game plan.”
South had 238 totals yards of offense against the Panthers, with 107 of those by Kenneth White. He also scored a touchdown. Runs by Rashen Bellamy (85 yards on 14 carries), Devante Stanley and an interception and runback for a score by A.J. Ferguson accounted for the three other touchdowns.
“We are pretty well exhausted,” Walters said about playing in the cold weather and the nearly eight-hour trip. “It was a good game and a great win. We did have some fumbles that made it harder for our defense. Orange has some good athletes and very good speed, and we did move the ball fairly well. It was a big challenge for us.”
Orange, a passing team, was held to three completions out of 15 passes. One of those completions was for a 20-yard score.
“We studied the game films and paid attention to what Orange did and developed a plan,” Walters said. “And the kids did a good job and followed those plans. On some plays, when our coverage broke down, they (Orange) made some good catches.”
South scored the decisive points with 7 minutes, 1 second left in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run by Stanley. Zack Alcorn’s pass to Ferguson completed the eight-point score.
Orange led 14-13 at the half, but the Cougars went ahead 19-14 on a 5-yard run by Bellamy with 7:33 left in the quarter. Orange regained the lead with 1:23 left on a 20-yard pass.
The favored Orange scored the first touchdown on a short run with 2:20 left in the first quarter. In the second quarter, a 19-yard run by White and Alcorn’s kick tied the score with 8:56 left. About a minute later, Ferguson scored on a 5-yard interception, putting South ahead 13-7. Orange regained the lead by halftime on a 67-yard run and extra point.
On Friday, the Cougars travel nearly 200 miles to Marshville (near Charlotte) to play a Forest Hill team that is no stranger to the playoffs, having won some state titles in their history and having had the same coach for 31 years.
“This is another big challenge for our team,” Walters said. “They are very excited, to say the least.”
The Yellow Jackets are heavily favored against the Cougars, who have been the underdogs for the two previous playoff games. But Walters said he is confident the “Cougar 48” will give it its best for the entire game.