Northview on (W)right track, wins thriller
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
After trailing Jay High School, who defeated the Chiefs 55-0 last year, for the majority of the game, NHS came back to score a touchdown with less than three minutes to go to take their first lead. They sealed the victory when Mandel Smith picked off a pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chiefs a 39-28 win and ending a 13-game losing streak dating back to 1998.
The key play of the game came with 2:50 to go in the fourth quarter, NHS trailing 28-25. Facing a fourth down and 4-yards to go, Chief Head Coach David Williams called a timeout. When they came back to the line of scrimmage they were looking for more than the first down. Quarterback Kyle Williams looked for his speedy receiver, Jonathan Andrews who juggled the ball into the end zone and cradled it despite an interference call against Jay.
After running one play for a yard, Wright took the handoff for the first play of the second and ran for a gain of 6 yards. Terry Lindor's number was called next and he weaved and bobbed for a 36-yard gain to the NHS 45-yard line. K. Williams then completed a pass to Nick Gradia for a pickup of 10 yards. From the Jay 45, Wright took the handoff and broke several tackles before leaving a trail of defenders running helplessly behind as he entered the end zone to give the Chiefs a 6-0 lead. Ben Gilmore's point after attempt was good, lifting the score to 7-0 with 10:31 to go in the first half.
The lead proved to be short-lived. After a short kick gave Jay good field position at the 50, three runs in four plays put the Royals at the 6-yard line. On the next play, the ball was taken in and the PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 8:21 to go in the half.
The Chiefs were driving on their next possession, but a fumble at the end of a 15-yard run by Wright gave Jay the ball back at their own 18. Then the Chiefs began having tackling troubles as the Royals marched down the field to the 4-yard line. Josh Greenwell pushed Jay back 6 yards when he sacked the quarterback. But, on the next play he found his receiver in time and Jay took a 14-7 lead after the PAT was kicked.
The Jay kicking team decided the squib kick was the thing to do, but for some reason kicked it right into the hands of Wright at about the 40-yard line. He took the ball all the way back to the Jay 10-yard line before being dragged down from behind. After losing 6 yards on a sack, K. Williams found his biggest target, tight end Eric Jefferson, who took it in for a 16-yard touchdown reception. The PAT was just short of the cross bar, giving the Chiefs down 14-13.
With only 1:37 to go in the half, Jay took possession and began to work downfield. A 25-yard run and a 21-yard pass paved the way for another touchdown, scored with only :26 seconds on the clock. The PAT was good and the teams went to the locker rooms with the score 21-13.
The second half started well for the Chiefs. On the kickoff, Gilmore hit the Jay return man, knocking the ball loose. John Madison came up with the turnover and NHS was in business at the JHS 22. But, a sack was the key play that forced the Chiefs to go for it on fourth down, which was unsuccessful.
Through the third period, the NHS defense began to get pushed around. On their next possession, Jay took the ball from their own 21 all the way to the Chiefs' 11-yard line. But, as the Royals' quarterback was forced out of the pocket on a pass play, he dropped the ball and NHS recovered at the 15. A flag for unsportsman-like conduct brought the line of scrimmage out to the 30.
Wright took the first handoff 19 yards. After a short pass to Gradia, Wright took the ball again and went straight through the Jay line for 48 yards and his second touchdown of the game. A two-point conversion that would have tied it was unsuccessful and the Chiefs were still behind 21-19.
Jays' next possession was rough for the NHS defense. With 3:53 to go in the third, they handed the ball off again and again – each time for a positive gain of at least four yards. The Royals capped off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run. The PAT gave them a 28-19 lead.
After losing two yards on each of their first two plays of the following possession, the Chiefs went to the sidelines as the buzzer sounded, ending the third period. On the first play of the fourth quarter, K. Williams looked for his favorite target-Andrews. As the ball came down it appeared to have landed in the hands of a covering defender, but Andrews stripped the ball away and showed off his break-away speed into the end zone. Another two-point conversion attempt failed, but NHS was within striking distance of Jay, 28-25, with 11:45 to go.
Then, the Chiefs got just what they needed. An invigorated defensive effort. After a flag for illegal participation, the Chiefs' defense capped off a solid three-and-out effort with a sack by O'neil Dubose for a 10-yard loss.
With time ticking away, Northview gave the ball to Wright who ran for 22 yards on the first play and then took the ball to midfield on the next. But, a short pass play to Andrews ended with a fumble that was recovered by Jay with only 7:56 to go.
But, the defense came up strong again, especially Marc Dunsford. After he crushed a Jay running back at the line of scrimmage and then another defender knocked down a pass attempt, Dunsford came up with one of the most important plays of the game. On another pass attempt, a NHS got his hands up and tipped the ball into the air and Dunsford hauled it in for an interception.
Northview took possession at their own 49 with 6:50 to go in the game and trailing by three. Wright got the first two handoffs, but was only able to move the ball 1 yard. An encroachment call helped the Chiefs' effort, moving the ball ahead five more yards. At the Jay 45 and looking at third down and four to go, K. Williams once again looks for Andrews. Trying not to get beat, a Jay defender grabs Andrews before he is suppose to for an interference call, setting Northview up with a fresh set of downs at the Jay 30.
With the clock down to 4:58, they give the ball to Wright on three straight plays for a total gain of 6 yards.
With 2:56 to go and starring at a fourth down and four situation, the Chiefs call their last timeout. With the outcome of the game most likely depending on whether the Chiefs can get four more yards, K. Williams decides he wants 24 yards instead and looks to Andrews for the go-ahead score in the home-stand corner of the end zone. Once again, the Jay defenders were caught interfering, but the penalty was declined in exchange for a 31-28 lead. This tme, NHS went for the PAT and it was good to lift the lead to 32-28.
The player's and fan's cheers went on, only to be replaced with the intense drama of having to face the Jay offense with 2:48 to go in the game.
It was almost all over on the kickoff. A Dawson Chavers tackle was the only thing stopping the return man from busting through the Chiefs coverage. Instead the ball rested at the Jay 43-yard line.
On the first play, the Jay quarterback rolled back and looked for a receiver on the left side of the field. As the pass headed toward the sideline, Smith jumped in front of it and sealed the Chiefs victory as he ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good as students and players celebrated the long-awaited victory.