The Southern Lee Cavaliers bounced back from an 0-2 start to the season last week by defeating Northwood 47-17 in Pittsboro.
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PITTSBORO — In the Southern Lee team huddle just before kickoff Friday against Northwood, the Cavaliers were hoping to bounce back from an 0-2 start to the season. They were just a week removed from a 63-10 loss to Pinecrest, the team’s worst loss since 2010.
Senior quarterback Thomas Harrington had something to say to his team. “Listen guys, 0-3 is not good,” said the quarterback. “Let’s get out there and play our hardest.”
The Cavaliers, however, wouldn’t have to worry about falling to 0-3 for long because a 55-yard touchdown pass from Harrington to Tanoah Lockley less than two minutes into the game gave Southern Lee a lead it would never relinquish.
A total of 225 passing yards and four touchdowns for Harrington powered Southern Lee to a 47-17 win.
The victory moved the Cavaliers to 1-2, while Northwood fell to 0-3.
“We needed a win pretty bad,” Southern Lee coach Ken Neal said.
After the early Cavaliers touchdown, an errant snap over the head of Northwood’s punter and out the back of the end zone for a safety gave Southern Lee a 9-0 lead with 8:44 to go in the first quarter.
Another touchdown pass from Harrington to Logan Hair just 26 seconds later pushed the score to 17-0.
Harrington wasn’t just controlling the game with his arm, however, but also with his eyes.
With about four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the quarterback saw the Northwood linebackers flowing with the tailback on a run play, and he checked in with Neal.
“I went over to the coach and I said, ‘Hey man, this is what I see,’” Harrington said, “He said, ‘Alright, if that’s what you see, then fine, do it.’”
On the next play, Harrington called “32 Cruz,” a run pass option, and hit a wide open Elijah Foxx for a 70-yard touchdown to make it 23-0.
“I was feeling good and our receivers were catching it,” Harrington said. “It was awesome.”
The Cavaliers’ offense was far from done, however. After Northwood got on the board with an early second quarter field goal, bringing the score to 23-3, Southern Lee responded with rushing touchdowns from Lockley and Keshaun Mays to make it 36-3 with 1:55 left in the half.
Northwood quarterback Jack Thompson was then intercepted for the third time, giving the ball back to Southern Lee with 1:01 to go. Rather than run out the clock, the Cavaliers remained aggressive. On the first play of the drive, Harrington found Foxx streaking down the sideline for another 70-yard touchdown. Mays punched in the 2-point conversion to stretch the halftime advantage to 44-3.
“We got a big lead in the first half and we were just fired up about it and everybody was playing hard,” Harrington said. “We work in practice all week. Your receivers learn to trust your quarterback and your quarterback trusts your receivers.”
The Chargers committed six turnovers and continued to struggle playing in their new system under first-year coach Cullen Homolka.
“We’re still learning how to play right now,” Homolka said. “I thought we had a pretty good scheme coming into it and our kids, at some point, they’ve just got to execute.”
Harrington played just one series in the second half and with him out of the game, Northwood started to gain momentum. A 14-play, 72-yard drive over nearly five minutes culminated in a touchdown pass on fourth and goal from Jack Thompson to Justin Brower. Thompson then led another drive and connected with Perry Marshall Jr. for a touchdown, making it 44-17 with 11:55 remaining in the game.
“We didn’t change anything defensively or offensively,” Homolka said. “We ran the same stuff one half to the next. Our kids just started figuring it out. It started clicking to them.”
One final field goal from Southern Lee provided the Cavaliers’ only points of the half to round out the scoring. “We still messed up and made some mistakes,” Neal said. “We’re going to go back Monday and get better and try to get to 2-2.”
A week after a 53-point loss, Thomas Harrington and Southern Lee found themselves on the other end of a blowout this time around.
“Everybody wants to win and you really focus on that winning feeling especially when you’re getting beaten badly,” Harrington said. “You don’t want the feeling of a loss. Losses suck, but when you win, everything’s great. Everybody looks forward to that feeling.”