‘Nastiest catch’ highlights Southern Durham’s defeat of Northwood

Posted 10/25/19

DURHAM — “That’s what we call Odell Beckham,” Darius Robinson said. “Odell Beckham in high school. That’s a great catch.”

The Southern Durham head coach wasn’t the only one …

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‘Nastiest catch’ highlights Southern Durham’s defeat of Northwood

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DURHAM — “That’s what we call Odell Beckham,” Darius Robinson said. “Odell Beckham in high school. That’s a great catch.”

The Southern Durham head coach wasn’t the only one surprised by Aaron Hall’s remarkable one-handed touchdown grab.

“I knew I was going to get the ball,” Hall said. “I just wasn’t expecting to get it like that.”

The receiver’s third touchdown of the game gave the Spartans a 31-0 lead over Northwood with 3:40 to go in the second quarter and headlined a dominant performance for Southern Durham in a 49-3 win over Northwood on Friday night at Spartan Stadium.

Southern Durham improved to 7-1, while Northwood fell to 4-4.

“We ran into a bit of a buzzsaw,” Chargers coach Cullen Homolka said. “We got in our heads a little bit and we broke down in areas where we really need people to step up.”

Just three plays into the game’s opening drive, an interception from Northwood quarterback Jack Thompson set up the Spartans with good field position, and they quickly capitalized when Omari Smith found Hall on a crossing route for a 39-yard touchdown.

Hall, who is being recruited as a defensive end, then recorded his 15th sack of the season on the ensuing series.

Jacquez Warren intercepted Thompson less than three minutes later, the second of five interceptions for the Spartans.

“In my opinion we have the best defense in the state,” Hall said. “We can’t be stopped.”

Smith proceeded to lead the offense down the field and found Hall once again, on a 17-yard slant to make it 14-0 with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter.

A minute into the second quarter, a 40-yard field goal from John Paulino extended the lead to 17 points.

After a missed field goal from the Chargers, Smith brought his team 80 yards down the field in just five plays, culminating in a 40-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Lloyd, on yet another crossing route, bringing the score to 24-0 with 5:46 left in the half.

“He’s playing well,” Robinson said of Smith. “He’s getting better and he’s going to be a great quarterback moving forward.”

Smith was far from done. Just two minutes later, he hoisted a 20-yard high fade toward Hall in the back corner of the end zone. The receiver reached up and, despite defensive pass interference, snared the tip of the ball with his right hand and somehow secured the catch.

The stadium erupted into pandemonium while several Spartans sprinted down the sideline in disbelief.

“All you could say was, ‘Wow,’” Robinson said. “You’ll probably only see those once or twice in your lifetime and we were able to see it live.”

Hall was the least amazed of anyone when describing the catch.

“I think it’s the gloves,” Hall said of his new Wake Forest receiver gloves he had been given earlier in the day. “It hit the glove and never came out. It just stuck to me. Lucky gloves.”

Before the sideline even had a chance to settle down, the Spartans had scored again, 42 seconds later, on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Smith after a Shawn Chappell interception.

The only drama left for Southern Durham was whether the defense would be able to preserve the shutout and secure the corresponding reward of donuts at the team’s Saturday rehab lift. In three previous conference games, the Spartans had allowed just 14 points and earned donuts twice.

However, on the next series, Aidan Laros converted a 47-yard field goal with 1:23 left in the half to give the Chargers their only points.

“We were hurt,” said Hall. “We wanted donuts. That ruined it.”

It didn’t take the Spartans long to continue the scoring, as Sincere LeCraft returned the second half’s opening kickoff and zipped through several gaps en route to a 90-yard kick return touchdown to make it 43-3.

The game’s final score came when Thompson’s pass toward the sideline was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Demetrius Moore with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter.

“Even in a loss like this I think we took a lot from it,” Homolka said. “Once we figured out we could play with them, it was different, but we needed to learn that before we get out here and I think that’s the part we’re still working on.”

With the win, the Spartans moved to 4-0 in the Big Eight Conference and took sole possession of first place.

But of Southern Durham’s seven touchdowns, the iconic play of the game remained Hall’s extraordinary catch, which was described by other Spartans as “spectacular”, “awesome” and “unbelievable”.

“My teammates said it was the nastiest catch we’ve had all season,” Hall said. “It was definitely mind-blowing.”

Another observer summed up the catch for the entire stunned crowd.

“That was a beautiful one-handed catch,” the public address announcer declared over the loudspeaker. After a brief pause, amidst the chaos, he added:



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