‘We have to finish’Published 1:56pm Saturday, September 8, 2012
Finishing games was the topic of Northview head coach Sid Wheatley’s post-game speech with his players after the Chiefs fell in overtime to the Marianna High School Bulldogs, failing to convert on a fourth and goal play that would have won them the game.
The Chiefs, operating without suspended defensive standout Neiko Robinson, came out swinging offensively in their second game of the year Friday night in Bratt. NHS jumped on top of the Bulldogs 15-13 at the end of the first quarter, spurred on by a 75-yard kick return by the absent Neiko’s younger brother Neino Robinson. Second quarter play went the Chiefs’ way as well, leaving NHS ahead of Marianna 22-13 at the half. A solid ground game and stable passing kept the Chiefs ahead in the second half, entering the third quarter up 28-13, but a late-game spark gave the Bulldogs all the incentive they needed to end NHS’ hopes of a perfect season, following their 60-0 thrashing of John Paul Catholic to open the year last Friday. Wheatley said getting ahead early is far from what it takes to win a football game.
“When you go up, I just really believe a good football team needs to go ahead and close that out,” Wheatley said. “With that kind of lead late in the game and we gave up big plays, we just didn’t play consistently. We gave up huge chunks of yards.”
The beginning of the end for the Chiefs came early in the fourth quarter when a Marianna score and a Northview fumble recovered by the Bulldogs led to narrow 28-26 lead for NHS.
Wheatley said big plays are always what separate good teams from champions.
“That’s exactly what happened, is you can’t give up big plays like that late in the game,” he said. The Chiefs were able to bounce back and fight for a win after Marianna’s rally, scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run by Roderick Woods to put NHS up 35-26 with 4:46 to go in the game.
Northview added to its lead after pick-six by Chiefs junior Juron Myles put NHS ahead 42-26 with only 4:30 left in regulation.
Despite only minutes left to play, the Bulldogs showed their mettle, scoring twice off big plays on the ground and converting a two-point conversion to tie the game at 42-all with only seconds left in the fourth quarter. After a failed Northview offensive attempt, Marianna capitalized first in overtime, getting in the end zone on the ground to take 48-42 lead. The Chiefs were not out of gusto, despite the Bulldogs’ success, blocking the point after the touchdown, giving NHS a shot for the win on their offensive, overtime drive.
Despite an excellent rushing attack that landed NHS with a third and goal on the one-yard line, Marianna’s defense stood strong, denying NHS their 2-0 start to the 2012 season.
“At times at thought we played with energy,” Wheatley said. “We had a couple of big plays. But, we really couldn’t get on track with any consistency as far as throwing the ball on offense.”
Wheatley said work must be done before next week’s home game versus Chipley, who knocked the Chiefs off in last year’s Florida High School Athletic Association semifinal playoff match up.
“We have to finish,” Wheatley said. “We have to clamp down. We’ve got to get better fundamentally. We’re going to preach about finishing football games because we were unable to close it out tonight and it cost us a win.”