Posted: Friday, August 31st 2012 at 11:59pm
Trojans roll into 2012, past Chestatee, 32-20
By Morgan Lee Editor
North Hall quarterback Bradley Brown escapes a tackle attempt from a Chestatee defender during the Trojans' win on Friday in Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE -- For all the talk of change for North Hall football, things looked very traditional for the Trojans on Friday night.
North Hall still ran the ball with a vengeance, and the Trojans again found a way past rival Chestatee, 32-20 at War Eagle Stadium in Gainesville.
The Trojans rolled up 339 yards rushing via 11 different ball carriers on the night, including an impressive debut from TJ Tate, who carried 14 times for 113 yards and two scores, and had one reception for a touchdown.
“We just take the personnel we’ve got and make it work the best way we can,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “We kept it on the ground most of the night, but we also had one touchdown pass. That’s one of the beauties of this offense; you lure them to sleep and you’re able to get behind on them play action like that.”
The scoring strike -- a 19-yard completion from quarterback Bradley Brown (who connected on 2-of-7 attempts for the game but rushed for 70 yards) -- broke a 7-7 tie just before halftime and was part of a 21-point surge from the Trojans that overturned a strong start from the War Eagles.
“We had heart; we never stopped believing,” Tate said after his team rebounded from a 7-0 deficit, pulling ahead on a touchdown run and scoring reception from the senior in the second quarter. “I feel like we came out and played hard and did what we had to do.”
North Hall (1-0) also took advantage of four Chestatee turnovers, converting three of the giveaways into 17 points. And while the Trojans also fumbled the ball away three times, two of the turnovers came after North Hall built a 32-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
“I was really proud of our guys. They could have hung their heads early, because Chestatee took it to us early,” Christmas said. “But they kept fighting, and it’s always great to start off with a win, especially against a quality team like Chestatee.”
The War Eagles (0-1) fought throughout, rushing for 223 yards, including 123 on 23 carries from Quan Clark. A.J. Sijiye also added 55 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown run with 3:17 remaining. The run came too late to turn the tide, however.
Despite falling behind 21-7 midway through the third quarter, Chestatee stayed with its strength, grinding the ball on the ground and sticking with the run. The ploy paid off, as the War Eagles converted a 7-plus minute drive to pull within 21-14 on quarterback Jordan Degraff’s 1-yard plunge just five seconds into the fourth quarter.
The surge proved shortlived.
North Hall responded immediately through Tate, who took a handoff, bounced off one tackler, cut to his left and sprinted 39 yards to the end zone. A heads-up play from North Hall special teams then added a two-point conversion, as holder Andrew Smith found a wide-open Taylor Ryder for 29-14 lead.
The War Eagles responded by fumbling away their next possession. The turnover yielded a 22-yard Modesto Cruz field goal and a 32-14 Trojans lead with 7:14 to play -- marking the third score from a turnover for North Hall on the night.
It was in stark contrast to the opening minutes of the contest, when the War Eagles drove the ball downfield thanks to dominating line play.
The Trojans recovered quickly, however, scoring on the ensuing drive, Tate driving into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the War Eagles 5 to knot the score with 9:59 left in the second quarter.
The two run-heavy teams battered each other to a stalemate for much of the first half, but the Trojans gained the upper hand on special teams just before halftime, when a muffed punt attempt gave North Hall possession at the Chestatee 19.
On the very next play, Tate ran past a confused War Eagles secondary and hauled in the 19-yard scoring pass from Brown for a 14-7 lead with just 1:45 left before the half. North Hall never trailed again.
“TJ’s a great player and I knew he was special when I saw him in middle school,” said Christmas, who also watched Kevin Christmas rush three times for 62 yards. “We have a deep backfield, and (Tate) was one of the difference-makers tonight.”
North Hall will look to keep rolling on Friday when they take on a resurgent Johnson.
Chestatee, meanwhile, will look to bounce back next week at West Hall.
North Hall....0...14....7....11 -- 32
Chestatee....7....0....0....13 -- 20
CHS -- Arthur 34 pass from Degraff (Zomora kick) 2:23, 7-0
NHHS -- Tate 5 run (Cruz kick) 9:59, 7-7
NHHS -- Tate 19 pass from Brown (Cruz kick) 1:45, 7-14
NHHS -- Brown 12 run (Cruz kick) 6:28, 7-21
CHS -- Degraff 1 run (Zomora kick) 11:55, 14-21
NHHS -- Tate 39 run (Ryder pass from Smith) 9:34, 14-29
NHHS -- Cruz 22 field goal, 7:14, 14-32
CHS -- Sijiye 45 run (kick failed) 3:17, 20-32
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