Six turnovers. Six 15-yard penalties. 0 yards passing.
Depsite all that, Orange still found a way to beat Northern Durham for the fourth straight time.
Ryan Puckett scored both of the Panthers touchdowns in the second half as Orange (2-0) defeated Norhern 21-13 at a sultry Durham County Stadium Friday night. The Orange defense held Northern to 91 yards total offense.
Orange has won 16 consecutive nonconference regular season games going into next week’s tilt against Riverside.
After an ugly 35-3 season-opening victory over Person, Orange coach Pat Moser wanted more consistency from his offense against the Knights.
Instead, he got a performance uglier than an Indepdence Day sequel.
The Panthers failed to complete a pass on five attempts. The leading receiver for Orange was Northern cornerback Lederrick Neville, who had two interceptions. He caught two more passes than anyone in an Orange uniform.
Orange’s defense sacked Knights quarterback Luke Fenton ten times, including four by defensive tackle Ryan Sellers. Senior Stone Edwards had three.
The biggest factor that seperated the two teams was the kicking game. Orange had reliable play from place kicker Francisco McKinley and punter Jackson Schmid. Northern’s kicking game led to two of the three Orange touchdowns. The Knights also missed an extra point that could have tied the game in the third quarter.
In the first quarter, Northern started two drives in Orange territory, including Neville’s first interception. Both times, they came away empty. Northern attempted an 27-yard field goal with 3:12 remaining, but it was blocked by sophomore Jeremiah Bailey.
Northern’s kicking woes continued in the second quarter when punter Hunter Malsch fumbled a snap that was recovered by Orange safety Keshawn Thompson. Two plays later, Junior Marvante Beasley scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. McKinley’s extra point put Orange ahea 7-0 with 8:02 remaining in the first half.
The only sign of a Northern passing game came late in the first half after Neville’s second interception. Fenton threw three consecutive completions to wide receiver Daylan Felton for gains of 19, 22 and 19 yards. Senior Jaylan Burton punched in the touchdown to even the game 7-7.
In the opening drive of the second half, Fenton was sacked on consecutive plays. That was followed by a three yard punt by Malsch, which Orange quickly took advantage of. Puckett scored on a 3-yard run and the Panthers never trailed again, in spite of themselves.
Northern flipped the field when Brycen Jackson recovered an Orange fumble on a punt return. After the Knights turned the ball over on downs, the Panthers fumbled yet again on the next play from scrimmage. Knights cornerback Patric Harris scooped up the ball to scored from 8-yard out. The extra point snap was fumbled, keeping Orange ahead 14-13.
Despite getting a chance to take the lead, Northern had -11 yards total offense for the rest of the game. Orange didn’t attempt a pass in the second half as Moser was content keeping the ball in the hands of his running backs.
The Panthers salted the game away on an 11-play, 65-yard drive, it’s only series than spanned over 45 yards in the game. It ended when Puckett scored on a 3rd-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The offensive line of Shea Hoffman, Tyson Wolter, Blake Taylor, Josh Smith-Breeden and Brandon Carden were forced to block 53 running plays.
Orange faces Riverside in the home opener next week at Auman Stadium.