Tigers’ 65-yard TD run puts Chargers on ice in back-and-forth 2nd half

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PITTSBORO — The Northwood Chargers were on the brink of taking down their former conference rivals, but everything can change in the blink of an eye.

In the early moments of the fourth quarter last Friday night, Chargers senior running back Jalen Paige scored on a one-yard touchdown run, which was met with jubilation and relief from him, his teammates and the crowd, giving Northwood a 29-28 advantage over the Chapel Hill Tigers (2-0) and putting them in excellent position to win if their defense could just close it out.

However, the Chargers’ young defense, which allowed 293 total yards to the Tigers on the night (189 rushing yards), capsized on the opening play of the next drive as Chapel Hill’s Elijah Ayankoya ran through a massive hole for a 65-yard touchdown that acted as the eventual game-winner. He reached the end zone untouched.

The Tigers went on to defeat their former Big Eight 3A rival — Chapel Hill’s since moved up to the 4A classification — by a 36-29 score, sending Northwood (1-2) home with a sub-.500 record.

The Chargers, one week removed from a 72-0 thrashing of the Jordan-Matthews Jets, put up great numbers in the loss to the Tigers, amassing 245 total yards (all on the ground) and adding 16 first downs to Chapel Hill’s 12.

Leading the Chargers’ rushing attack was Paige, who racked up 18 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns, along with senior running back DaShaun Vines-McSwain (20 carries, 100 yards, two touchdowns).

However, Northwood’s glaring issues both on defense and in the passing game, which saw sophomore quarterback Carson Fortunes going 0-for-5 with an interception, are primary culprits for their early season struggles.

The Chargers will look to get back on track next week as they head to Southeast Raleigh (2-1) to take on the Bulldogs this Friday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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