DURHAM — Just two games into the Piedmont Athletics Conference football season, two teams have emerged as the co-leaders.
Running back Donte’ Thomas-Williams rushed for three touchdowns and 209 of Hillside’s 261 yards to lead the Hornets to a 35-21 victory last Friday over Riverside in PAC-6 action, ending a four-game win streak for the Pirates and making the Hornets one of the PAC-6 leaders midway into the conference season.
Northern is the surprise co-leader in the PAC-6, improving to 2-6 overall and 2-0 in conference games with the Knights’ 42-6 blowout of East Chapel Hill. Friday’s win in Durham County Memorial Stadium gave Northern back-to-back wins after an 0-6 start.
“The conference definitely gives us something to shoot for,” Northern coach R.J. Wilson said as his players celebrated. “We told the players before the first conference game (with Person) that they just needed to wipe away everything that came before and to start over.”
Northern plays at Hillside this Friday.
In other games last week involving PAC-6 teams, Jordan fell 29-19 at Roxboro Person.
Hillside wins third straight
Hillside’s Thomas-Williams scored on runs of 38, 37 and 4 yards Friday, out-shining Riverside’s PAC-6 rushing leader Joel Evans, who was held to 122 yards and kept out of the endzone. Evans had been averaging more than 180 yards per game.
“Our focus was on him all week. We knew what he was capable of,” Hillside coach Antonio King said. “We wanted to contain him, but you can only do so much.”
Riverside’s Dianté Strothers threw for two touchdowns: a 1-yard toss to Darryl Smith in the first half and an 11-yarder to Dean Yarborough with 2:56 to play.
Riverside’s Jonathan Rhew ran for 115 yards and one touchdown, but the Pirates (5-3, 1-1) couldn’t stop Thomas-Williams and the Hornets when it counted.
Hillside (5-2, 2-0) got two touchdown passes from Nas Forté-Ferguson, who completed 6-of-14 passes for 157 yards without an interception. He opened the scoring with a 22-yard TD pass to Trevion Thompson and put Hillside up 35-14 with a 73-yard strike to Ray Green with 6:28 left in the game.
“We just made too many mistakes down the end,” Riverside coach David Hackney said. “We missed some tackles and we didn’t get the stops. But I’m proud of our guys. I told them to hold their heads up. These were two pretty good teams.”
Northern pounded East Chapel Hill (1-7, 0-2) early and often Friday in Durham County Memorial Stadium for 408 yards of total offense. Northern quarterback Zaaqhai Mann competed just 2-of-5 passes for 26 yards, but added 66 yards rushing, most of it coming on touchdown runs of 33 and 17 yards.
The Knights’ Alphons Gbojueh rushed 15 times for 116 yards and a 17-yard touchdown, while Deshon Holmes had 110 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown, on just six carries. Marcus Starr scored on a 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter to give Northern a 42-0 lead.
At Roxboro, Jordan scored twice in the last 8:41 of play last Friday on a kickoff return and fumble return, but it wasn’t enough to keep Person (3-5, 1-1 PAC) from winning for the second time in three games. Jordan (1-7, 0-2) lost its sixth straight despite scoring its most points in six weeks.
Rahim Winston scored a 5-yard run to cut into a 14-0 Person lead, but the Rockets pulled away on runs by Trevon Tapp and Corey Young.
After Person pulled ahead 29-7 on a 2-point conversion throw with 8:56 left to play, Clayton Cockerham jump-started Jordan’s rally with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Person was able to grind some time off the clock with its running game before Jordan’s Maliik Marchin-Lewis recovered a fumbleand returned it 25 yards for the game’s final score.
Correspondents Bonitta Best and Keith Kramer contributed to this report.