High School Football
Vikings, Skalski able to hold off Raiders
by Matthew Pearce, Special to the Newnan Times-Herald
Jamie Skalski rushed for two touchdowns, recorded 12 tackles and was successful with all five extra point attempts as the Northgate Vikings opened their season with a 35-22 victory over the Shaw Raiders at a balmy Henry Seldon Field.
After opening up a three-score lead by halftime, the visiting Raiders pulled the Vikings back to within a touchdown as fatigue appeared to set in for the Vikings’ defense. The home team was able to swing momentum back in their favor in the fourth quarter as they rode the junior Skalski on both offense and defense.
“We jumped out on them and then we had about a million self-inflicted wounds in the second quarter when we could have knocked them out,” Vikings head coach Tommy Walburn said. “They run that no-huddle spread and with them no lead is safe. It’s always good to get that one under your belt, but as far as us being where we need to be, we’re not right now.”
With the score at 21-14 and the Northgate offense beginning to stutter, Skalski, senior Kevin Teasley and sophomore Ton Evans orchestrated a six-play, 76-yard drive to give the Vikings breathing room with 9:46 remaining in the contest.
After a 23-yard carry by Teasley, Skalski was able to power his way over from two-yards out, giving the Vikings a two-touchdown cushion. On the home teams’ next possession, the same combination gave Skalski another 2-yard run into the end zone, this time on a sweep play, extending the score to 35-14.
It was padding the Vikings needed, as Shaw converted a 64-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Bishop to David Whitehead. An ensuing two-point conversion pulled the Raiders within 35-22 with 1:16 left on the clock. Northgate, however, were able to run the clock out and secure an opening day victory.
“The thing that disappointed me at half-time was we could have been up three scores. You need to get up to three scores to take pressure off your defense,” Walburn said. “I’m proud of our kids, we’ve got a lot of things to work on, but we’re going to celebrate this one.”
It took the home side just three plays to drive the necessary 63-yards to secure first blood after holding the Raiders on their opening possession. Junior Kamari Ray took a sweep right and went untouched for 25 yards to put the Vikings up 7-0. The score, however, was built on a bulldozing 42-yard rush by Teasley.
Malik Wade set up Northgate’s second score in as many possessions. The senior safety managed to hold onto Bishop’s wayward pass, returning it to the Raiders’ 29 yard line. The Vikings’ rushing attack took just five plays for Evans to take the ball into the end zone.
A quiet second quarter came to a climax at the end of regulation as Shaw converted a fourth-and-three with nine seconds left on the clock to set up a first-and-goal with half a second left in the half. Bishop sprinted out right, but, as he fired to an open receiver in the end zone, Skalski tipped the ball away and secured the 14-0 halftime lead for the home squad.
Vikings 35, Raiders 22
Shaw 0 0 7 15 — 22
Northgate 14 0 7 14 — 35
NG - Kamari Ray 25 run (Jamie Skalski kick), 6:28
NG - Ton Evans 3 run (Skalski kick), 2:15
NG - Caleb Blankenship fumble recovery in end zone (Skalski kick), 7:27
SHS - David Whitehead 46 yard touchdown pass from Caleb Bishop, 5:29
SHS - Whitehead 31 yard touchdown pass from Bishop, 11:24
NG - Skalski 2 run, (Skalski kick) 9:46
NG - Skalski 2 run, (Skalski kick), 4:40
NG - Whitehead 64 yard touchdown pass from Bishop (2pt conversion), 1:16