Prep Football: Northgate unable to hang on against Creekside
By CHRIS GIROUARD
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
For the second consecutive week, Northgate could taste a Region 4B-AAAAA victory at halftime only to see their opponent rally back to pull it from its fingers.
But it was déjà vu all over again for the Vikings on Friday.
After holding a 10-point lead at halftime last week against Whitewater only to see that edge disappear in the fourth quarter, the Vikings saw themselves holding a 9-point advantage last night at home against Creekside while taking advantage of four Seminoles turnovers before halftime.
“We did hold them (in the first half),”Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn said. “We had more opportunities to score and we didn’t. Then we couldn’t get off the field in certain situations.”
(To view the Photo Gallery from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click Sports / Football.)
Trailing 16-7 in the fourth quarter, Creekside used two long drives to make its comeback possible.
The first of which started in the third quarter covered 98 yards in just 2:19. While the Vikings were able to snuff out the Seminoles’ passing attack led by quarterback Evan Berry, a pair of key penalties kept the drive alive.
An offside call on the Vikings gave Creekside a more manageable 2nd-and-5. Then a 15-yard facemask on a third-down stop gave the Seminoles further life at the Northgate 47. Two plays later from the same spot, Berry broke the longest run of the game fpr a touchdown that cut the lead to 16-14.
Clinging to the slim lead, Northgate managed to run four minutes off the clock on a possession into Creekside territory. But a nine-play drive ended on an incomplete pass and an ensuing punt from the 37-yard line pinned the Seminoles at their own 11.
Once again, however, the Seminoles struck quickly to take a lead for good.
Holding Berry in check for most of the night through three quarters on 5 of 19 passing, the Creekside star quarterback found his touch by going 3-for-5 for 58 yards and adding a pair of runs on scrambles on his team’s final scoring drive. A 10-yard run on 3rd and 10 to the Vikings’ 21 kept the drive alive. Berry ran it in from there on the next play to push Creekside ahead 20-16.
“What happened is we don’t have a lot of depth on the defensive line,” said Walburn. “They got tired and we weren’t rushing the passer as well in the second half. But you have to give Creekside credit. They found a way to win the game.”
Berry finished the game with 13 carries for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was also 8 of 24 passing for 123 yards and a first quarter 9-yard touchdown strike to Darvin Williams that gave the Seminoles an early 7-0 lead.
Creekside turnovers, however, helped Northgate creep back into the game.
The first came when Vikings safety Torres Johnson picked off a pass at the Seminoles’ 30 and returned it to the 4-yard line, the first of two interceptions by the Northgate junior.
Two plays later Viking senior quarterback Josh Harrison carried it the rest of the way for a 5-yard touchdown. The PAT was partially blocked and the score was 7-6 early in the second quarter.
The Seminoles’ first play from scrimmage on their next drive resulted in a fumble that was recovered by the Vikings. That set up a 28-yard field goal by Zack Braun that gave Northgate its first lead at 9-7.
Another fumble recovery by the Vikings’ defense during the next Creekside drive started a 6-play, 40-yard march. This time it was Michael Willis who ran in from 5 yards to make it 16-14.
Despite the loss, the Region 4-AAAAA play-in game to close the regular season on Nov. 3 will have the top-four finishers in each subregion eligible to make the state playoffs with a victory.
Each subregion champ will play the No. 4 seed in the opposing subregion while No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will also crossover. The four winners will qualify for the postseason.
“The way our region is set up is a blessing,” Walburn said. “We still control our own destiny. If we win one or two of our remaining regular season games we will get a playoff game. We will have something to play for until the last regular season game.”
SCORING SUMMARY – Creekside 20, Northgate 16
Creekside 7 0 0 13 – 20
Northgate 0 16 0 0 – 16
C – Evan Berry 9 yard pass to Darvin Williams (Francisco Alejandre kick), 1:47
N – Josh Harrison 5 yard run (kick blocked), 11:51
N – Zack Braun 28 FG, 7:15
N – Michael Willis 5 yard run (Braun kick), 1:58
C – Berry 47 yard run (Alejandre kick), 9:50
C – Berry 21 yard run (Conversion failed), 2:57