Coming into play Friday night the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars had played a very tough schedule and things didn't get any easier for the Cougars when they hosted a tough North Pitt Panthers team. SouthWest was one of only two undefeated teams left in the Eastern Plains Conference, but North Pitt made sure that changed and defeated the Cougars 27-24.
With the loss, SouthWest drops to a second place tie with the Panthers at 3-1 in conference action.
SouthWest struggled during the first half and gained only 104 yards of total offense, which is unusual for the Cougars who had been averaging close to 300 yards a game this season. North Pitt's defense shut down the Cougars offense and their star running back Gerald Hinton. North Pitt also controlled the ball and the clock which keep the advantage in their favor.
North Pitt jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after they put a drive together and capped it off with a Cedric Razor one yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and the Panthers led 7-0 with 8:54 left in the first quarter.
Neither team could score on their opponents and they hit a drought until there was 2:19 left before halftime. North Pitt running back Brian Staton found pay dirt when he scored from four yards out and the extra point try was good and the Panthers held a 14-0 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter it didn't take the Cougars long to find their offensive scheme that they were used to all season. They put a drive together that lasted just short of three minutes and capped it off with a Hinton TD run from four yards out. Hinton also converted the two-point conversion and SouthWest trailed 14-8.
North Pitt took the ensuing possession and drove down the field on SouthWest's defense. Again, Razor capped off the drive on a 13-yard TD run. The extra point try was good and the Panthers led 21-8 with 4:02 left in the third.
SouthWest cut into the lead once again with 10:25 left in the game when quarterback Quay Wooten blasted up the middle on a QB keeper and scored from one yard out. Hinton converted the two-point try and cut the Panthers lead to 21-16.
North Pitt just was comfortable letting the Cougars hang around though. With 2:57 left to play, they added some cushion to their lead when Staton scored his second TD of the game on a 22-yard run. The extra point try failed and SouthWest trailed 27-16.
The Cougars responded right back in just under a minute and a half. Hinton hit it big with a 56 yard TD run. Milton Ransome converted the two-point try and SouthWest cut the Panthers lead to three at 27-24.
There just wasn't enough time left as the Panthers sealed the conference win.
North Pitt had 20 first downs in the game to the Cougars 10. The Panthers out gained the Cougars 381 to 295 and North Pitt held the ball for 29 minutes and the Cougars had possession only 19 minutes.
The time of possession really hurt the Cougars, because they are used to controlling the ball and the clock.
Hinton finished the game with 187 yards on 19 carries, while Ransome chipped in 41 yards and fullback Devante Williams added 25 on five carries.
Hinton went over the century mark with his performance. he now has 1,169 yards on the season and has scored 17 TDs.
SouthWest will have another tough opponent Friday when they travel to county rival Tarboro to play the Vikings. This will be the last time the two teams meet in a conference battle and it will be the last time Cobb coaches against long time friend Jeff Craddock.