Friday night’s football game between Northeast and Rossview seemed like it was destined to be a shot-for-shot slugfest when the Hawks scored on a five-minute drive to open the night.
Turned out it was, but in an opposite way: it was the defenses that went shot for shot, as only two more scores went on the board – and they were both safeties. Rossview ended up taking the Eagles down 7-4 in what was, indeed, a football game despite the baseball score.
Rossview quarterback Garrett Diemel orchestrated a strong opening drive for the Hawks, culminating in a 10-yard strike to junior Parker Kirkpatrick to open the scoring for what would be their first and last entry on the scoreboard all night. It’s not that they weren’t able to move the ball – they only went three-and-out four times – but instead were unable to capitalize on opportunities. Unluckily enough, two of those four three-and-outs forced them to punt from their own end zone with both resulting in punter Andrew Welch unable to get the ball off, giving the Eagles two points on back-to-back possessions.
“The offense, we moved well,” said RHS coach Todd Hood. “I thought we moved the ball well. We just couldn’t capitalize. We had the ball down there a couple of times. We didn’t get points on the board, a fourth down or two that we didn’t get, a third down one or two that we didn’t get, but we moved the ball well in both halves.”
On top of the safeties, the Hawks missed a field goal near the end of the first half to leave three points on the board.
Luckily, their defense played about as well as they possibly could have.
The Eagles offense, who scored 28 points in their opening week win, were held completely off the board. They went three-and-out six times, threw two interceptions and were stopped within the Rossview 5-yard line three times.
On their second to last possession, the Eagles were set up on the RHS 1-yard line after a 29-yard run by junior Juwan Harris and 32-yard reception by senior Jaylin Bowser. After being stuffed at the goal line on first and second down, sophomore quarterback Jaiden Puig was intercepted by Rossview’s Bryson Burns.
Northeast had one more opportunity, though. They took over near midfield with 3:39 to go but couldn’t manage a first down, with the final play being an incomplete pass being thrown by backup quarterback Brandon Jackson.
“We just were not firing how we should have,” said NEHS head coach Brandon Clark. “We had three turnovers in the red zone tonight and that just absolutely killed us.
“Offensively, we don’t have a whole lot of seniors. We have a lot of sophomores and I’m not going to say just because you’re a sophomore you can’t be mature, but we do have to learn some maturity. I have all the faith in the world we’re going to get it figured out and turn it around.”
After Harris ran over Kenwood on Sept. 4 and Puig threw for three touchdowns to finish those drives off, Hood and the Hawks knew they had to key in on the bruising running back to hold him in check while keeping the young quarterback in check with a barrage of blitzes. The plan worked.
“We stopped the running game,” Hood said. “They’ve got the big boys… We did a good job. From what I can remember, he had maybe one really decent run and they’d run over us a couple times but we shut him down. The quarterback does a great job throwing the ball, we did a good job shutting him down too with our pressure up front.”
Rossview celebrated senior night before the game, honoring their 21 seniors on the field. Many of those fourth-year players, including Mark-Anthony Prescott, Aaron Bolster and Ashton Chavis, were main contributors on defense.
Now 1-1, the Hawks will return to action on Sept. 18 at Station Camp at 7 p.m.
Northeast was originally scheduled to host Dyer County the same night, but the Choctaws had to forfeit due to COVID-19 concerns, meaning the Eagles are now 2-1 with zero Region 7-5A losses.
“I hate to get a win on this national disaster, but it is what it is,” Clark said. “Our next sights are on West Creek but really right now the sights are on us.”
The Eagles will face the Coyotes on the road on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.