The Southridge Spartans’ stingy defense shut down the Southwest Eagles in a 28-0 victory Friday night on their home field in the Region 4-8A quarterfinals.
It was the sixth consecutive shutout victory for the Spartans (8-2), who have not allowed a single point to an opponent since a loss to Carol City on Sept. 23.
Against a Southwest team (7-3) missing starting quarterback John “JJ” Jaramillo for most of the game, the Spartans forced four interceptions and allowed just 82 yards of total offense, all rushing yards.
The Spartans will face off against the winner of Belen and Palmetto in the regional semifinals next week.
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“Our defense has been our strength all year,” Southridge Head Coach William Rolle said. “We just wanted to get through this round and start this quest to the win.”
The Spartans struck first with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Micheal Cox up the middle to wide receiver Mark Pope with five minutes left in the first quarter.
On the first play of their first next drive Southridge used their “swinging gate” formation, lining up most of their offensive line on the left side, to confuse the Eagles defense. It worked to perfection, allowing wide receiver Daquris Wiggins to get wide open and score on a 55-yard pass from Antwan Collier to give the Spartans an early 14-0 lead.
“Getting those early scores helped us calm down and settle in for the rest of the game,” Rolle said. “Southwest plays tough and we wanted to make sure we didn’t take them lightly.”
A leaping catch by Pope for a 36-yard reception late in the second quarter set up a two-yard rushing score for tight end Kemore Gamble to give the Spartans a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Southridge running back Courtney Reese, who led the Spartans with 72 rushing yards on seven carries, darted up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Eagles came close to ending the Spartans’ impressive no points allowed streak in the fourth quarter, driving inside the Spartans’ 10-yard line with under five minutes left in the game. But Southridge forced a turnover on downs on fourth and goal to secure the shutout.