The Totem Pole has a new owner.
After three quarters of back-and-forth play, North Side's Ronald Collins III connected with Preston McElroy on back-to-back passes, the second one an 8-yard shovel pass, to take the lead over South Side for good as the Legends beat the Archers 32-18.
A 32-yard field goal by Braden West and a 41-yard touchdown pass to R.J. Armstrong were just icing on the cake as the Legends (2-5) took back the totem pole from the Archers (0-7) after two losses in the rivalry game.
“It feels great, having it back where it belongs, it's unreal,” Collins said of the rivalry trophy, which was handed over to the Legends after the game. “You could feel it in the locker room, emotions running high. Everyone wanted to come out and compete for that totem pole.”
North Side coach Mike Brevard said he worried that South Side, which came into the game winless, might have been more hyped up for the game than his team.
“We talked about it at halftime: We have to wake up out there,” Brevard said. “I told the guys, they're not laying down. To them, this is the Super Bowl. I feel like the second half, we matched their intensity, and we came away with the win.”
Despite the extra sauce that some players brought into the game, the wide majority of penalty yards (120 for the Archers and 80 for the Legends), were for procedural violations, not aggressive play.
The rivals were evenly matched in the first half. Neither team capitalized in the first quarter, and South Side scored first when Omar Jackson finally concluded an Archers drive with a 1-yard keep to go ahead 6-0.
North Side struck back just a few minutes later when quarterback Collins faked out the Archers defense and kept the ball, running 11-yards for a touchdown. Jackson scored again on a repeat of his first touchdown, a 1-yard keeper, but the Legends got the last say in the half, as Collins found Jordan Turner and the freshman wide receiver sailed into the end zone from 6 yards out for a 13-12 halftime lead.
Collins completed 11 of 24 pass attempts for 118 yards, throwing for three touchdowns in addition to the one he ran in himself. Alex Holliday-Robinson finished with 232 rushing yards for the Legends, including 70 yards on three carries in one drive that resulted in a North Side field goal.
“Early on, first half, he had some plays where he didn't execute, and he knew that was on him,” Brevard said of Collins. “He's the sort of kid who's a perfectionist. He knows when he makes a mistake, and he takes it hard. In the second half, he did a good job of loosening up. He had some good throws. Some were dropped. Some, as you saw to R.J., went for a nice long touchdown.”
The win was the second for Brevard, who is now in his second season.
“Nothing compares to win No. 1, because that night was perfect, that first win was everything,” Brevard said. “It's a little bit special because of this North-South rivalry. I'm so happy for the kids, for the student body here at North Side, for the administration, everybody.”