After overpowering Southeast Alamance, 55-9, the week prior, Northwood still wanted to make a statement Friday night and show the rest of the Mid-Carolina 1A/2A conference that the Chargers should be considered as one of the best.
And they did exactly that.
The Chargers (3-2, 2-1) completely dominated Jordan-Matthews (1-4, 1-2) on both sides of the ball, winning its second-straight conference game, 49-0.
Northwood led, 42-0, at the half.
“We had to focus on what Northwood football was about,” head coach Mitch Johnson said. “That’s just cleaning things up, and we just got to continue to get better each game.”
The Chargers’ offense only needed 56 seconds to show they meant business against a more confident Jets team coming off its first win since 2021.
Immediately after Northwood quarterback Carson Fortunes found tight end Gus Ritchey for a 20-yard gain, junior running back Antoine Brewington found a hole and ran 29 yards to the endzone. The Chargers took an early 7-0 lead.
On the following possession, the defense put their stamp on the game just as quickly. The Chargers took only two plays to force a fumble that senior linebacker Mason Powell returned for a touchdown.
Up 14-0, Northwood built on its lead with the same balanced attack from the first possession. The Chargers rushed for over 200 yards and five touchdowns while passing for over 100 yards throughout the game.
Four different players on the Chargers’ offense found the endzone. Senior receiver Ashton Elliot and Brewington rushed for two touchdowns each, Fortunes ran in another one and Ritchey got one through the air.
“We tell Carson to be a point guard,” Johnson said. “We got a bunch of weapons to use, and we feel pretty deep at our skill position. It doesn’t let anyone focus on what we’re doing with our concepts. It’s really hard to focus with who’s getting the ball, what kind of formations and motion.”
Said Johnson, “It’s trying to get everybody some touches and everybody some love because they work really hard and have a lot of talent and skill.”
Defensively, Northwood shut down Jordan-Matthews’ offense with its control over the trenches.
The Chargers’ defensive line was more physical and crowded the backfield all night, giving up only 45 rushing yards to a team that rushed for 320 yards the previous week against Chatham Central.
“Our defensive line is by far one of our strengths,” Johnson said. “I mean they just go after it.”
Senior defensive lineman Santana Gabriel got after the Jets’ quarterback, sacking him twice in consecutive plays and forcing multiple quarterback hurries. One hurry led to a long interception caught by sophomore Cam Fowler.
“(Gabriel is) a very good physical specimen,” Johnson said. “He’s got a good motor, and he’s a really good kid and a student of the game. He was very impactful.”
With just five games left in the regular season, the Chargers have their eyes set on securing a conference championship.
Thanks to the win and North Moore’s loss to Southeast Alamance Friday, Northwood is third in the Mid-Carolina 1A/2A conference behind second-place Bartlett-Yancey and first-place Cummings.
Two straight conference wins by more than 40 points and a win over a 3A opponent in Union Pines are indications that Northwood belongs near the top of the conference standings. The Chargers’ biggest threat will likely be a 4-1 Cummings team that has won each of its conference games by at least 28 points.
Northwood and Cummings won’t meet until Oct. 13. For now, the Chargers will look to move up in the standings Friday when they face Bartlett-Yancey at home.
“Game-by-game,” Johnson said. “Brick by brick to get us to that conference championship which is our overall goal…Our biggest thing is trying to focus on the fact that we have a long ways until we play Cummings, and we got a lot of games. We don’t want to sleep on opponents.”