Scoring 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter would be a notable accomplishment for most football teams.
But perhaps nowhere would three straight touchdowns to snag a conference win mean more than at South Side, where the Archers (1-1) overcame a 14-6 deficit going into the final quarter to come up with a 26-14 win over Northrop last Friday, the first victory under new head coach Guy Lee.
In the 33 South Side games since the start of 2018 season, the win over the Bruins was just the fourth victory, and in that stretch the Archers have scored more than 20 points in just five times.
“What happened was, Trevor Hapner, in the third and fourth quarter, he just had a great quarter. Anthony Thomas ran great. Our big guys ran great down to the goal line,” Lee said. “We just stayed on track. We just didn't get off the track.
“The week before we had a bad first half (against Concordia), but the second half we outscored them and played a lot better. We just kept that going.”
Senior running back and linebacker Jaylen Lattimore scored the first three of his team's touchdowns plus a two-point conversion, including two scores in the fourth quarter, but when asked about his team's 20-0 run he emphasized the flip side of the equation – the fact that the Archers defense held Northrop scoreless in the second half.
“Defense is really our strong suit, with me and Trevor (Hapner), a lot of returning guys on the defensive side of the ball, a lot of experience,” said Lattimore, who gained 44 yards on offense and had five tackles and two sacks. “We take pride in our defense and getting stops. Coming out in the second half, it was a mission for us to shut them out. They scored 14 points in the first half, and we decided that was enough.”
And even when the Archers forced the Bruins to punt, they weren't done yet: Hapner blocked two punts and tackled the punter, putting the ball on the Northrop 1-yard line and setting up a 1-yard touchdown carry for quarterback Quincy English Jr. with 3:24 left in the game.
“I just shot the B gap, and then the people around me took the guys away, and it was open,” Hapner said. “It was open both times.”
Lattimore said that he knew Hapner has his mind set on a block before they even lined up.
“He told me, just take on the double-team and he's going to go get it,” Lattimore recalled. “I put my trust in him, a wouldn't you know, the second one he came and blocked it, recovered it. I thought he was going to score, but we were able to get done to the 5 and I was able to punch it in.”
Both Lee and numerous players commented on the fact that South Side's players continued to bring the heat until the conclusion of the game, a welcome development for a team that often lost momentum in the second half of games in 2020.
“That was a big Achilles' heel for us last year, we would come out and play hard the first half, either be up 6 or down 6, and then come out sluggish or slow in the second half due to a lack of conditioning,” Lattimore said. “So for me and Coach Lee and the captains, that was a big thing, because we don't have 100 kids on the sidelines. We have to work with what we've got.”
And while South Side may not have the enormous roster of some other SAC schools, the Archers say the team has grown since the first day of practice a month ago, bolstered as players have turned in physical forms, been cleared for competition after transferring in this summer and been persuaded to play by new teammates.
“We're a no-nonsense program. ... We're happy with the philosophy and the buy-in of our kids.” Lee said. “I enjoy every day. The most exciting part is watching our coaches mature with the players, and our players buying into the product that we're building.”
(All games at 7 p.m.)
Carroll at North Side
Central Noble at Fairfield
Chelsea (Mich.) at Angola
Churubusco at Garrett
Columbia City at Bellmont
DeKalb at New Haven
Bishop Dwenger at South Side
Bishop Luers at Homestead
Snider at Concordia
Wayne at Northrop
Huntington North at East Noble
Jay County at Southern Wells
Leo at Norwell
Plymouth at Warsaw
Rochester at Whitko
South Adams at Bluffton
Wawasee at Northridge
West Noble at Eastside
Woodlan at Heritage