By: Anthony Perkins
Greensboro – The Dudley Panthers and the South Point Red Raiders met on Friday night in the Western Finals of the North Carolina 3A playoffs for the right to play for the state title next week. Dudley entered the game averaging nearly 50 point per game while giving up less than seven points per game. That trend continued in the semi-final round as the Panthers began to pile up the points from the opening kickoff while their defense dismantled the Red Raiders offense on their way to a 38-0 shutout.
Mehki Wall started things off for the Panthers by returning the opening kickoff 87 yards for their initial score.
Running back R.J. Baker capped off the third Panther possession with a one-yard touchdown run just seconds before the first quarter ended. Baker added two more scores for the Panthers in the second quarter; the first score came on a brilliant 68 yard run off the left side with 10:25 left on the clock and with only seven seconds left in the half he scored on a one yard run to give Dudley a 25-0 lead.
Michael Shaw added six more points to the Panthers score on their first possession in the third quarter on a five-yard run and Wall added his second score of the game on the first Panther possession in the final quarter to account for the 38-0 final score.
Dudley head coach Steven Davis commented, “The final outcome surprised me because we knew they were a good team after watching the films. It seemed like the opening kickoff return just took it out of them and our team played a great game.” For the contest the Panthers had 225 yards rushing on 32 carries. Quarterback Jahmier Slade completed 6 of 14 passes for an additional 124 yards to give the Panther offense a total offensive output of 347 yards. Dudley moved the chains twelve times, were penalized five times for 30 yards and they lost one fumble on their last possession after the outcome of the game had already been decided.
South Point head coach Adam Hodge also offered these comments after the game. “I’m obviously not happy about the score of this game but these boys had a great year. As sophomores, our seniors went six and seven, last year they just missed the playoffs and this year they went to the Western Finals. That shows the kind of character they have and this one game will never change the way I feel about them.” South Point garnered eight first downs, they were penalized four times for 35 yards. They had one interception and they lost two of three fumbles. South Point’s usually potent rushing attack could muster only 139 yards on 47 carries and the Red Raiders went 0-3-1 in the passing department.
Next week Dudley will go up against JH Rose for the state 3A title on the UNC campus.