Northview knocks off Bay 26-17 in jamboree

Published 8:33 am Monday, August 29, 2011

The Northview Chiefs gave a packed home crowd something to cheer about Friday night as they edged out the visiting Bay High School Tornadoes 26-17 during a preseason jamboree match-up.

The Chiefs put the final nail in the Tornadoes’ coffin late in the game as quarterback Brandon Sheets found Austin Albritton in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown with only 13 seconds left to play putting Northview on top by 9 points.

With several key throws added to a stellar night of rushing for the Chiefs, head coach Sid Wheatley said he was encouraged by his team’s offensive production.

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“I thought we controlled the ball and kind of dictated the pace of the game tonight,” he said.

Wheatley specifically praised his offensive line for their performance and ability to set up Northview’s skill players for success.

“I feel pretty good about the way our offensive line played,” he said. “We thought they might be a strength for us this year coming in, and I thought they kind of controlled the ball. Off course we probably had a big edge in time of possession and that was much due credit to the offensive line.”

Defensively the Chiefs were able to step up and stop the Tornadoes when it counted, but Wheatley said there is still work to be done before the season begins to eliminate big plays from opposing offenses.

“One thing is I was not real pleased at times with our tackling,” he said. “We’ve got to be fundamentally sound. We missed some tackles and they did make two big plays. We can’t give up big plays and allow a team to get right back in it after a score.”

The Chiefs had plenty of big plays of their own Friday night beginning with a first-quarter touchdown on a quarterback keeper from back-up Kevin Vaughan to put Northview on top 7-0.

Early in the second quarter it seemed both teams’ defensive units would dictate the contest’s outcome as Northview and Bay traded several series before a Tornado fumble recovered by Northview’s Montaio Mitchell gave the Chiefs offense new life. However, the defensive struggle would continue after all as Northview almost immediately put the ball on the ground for Bay to recover.

Following the fumble recovery, the Tornados began to show some offensive production capping off a long drive with a quarterback sneak on second and goal to tie the Chiefs at 7 a piece with 2:57 to play in the first half.

Refusing to go into the locker room down at the half time break, NHS pulled together with time quickly expiring assembling a nice drive of their own before Sheets unloaded a 48-yard bomb to Albritton for the first of their two hook ups for touchdowns. An extra point kick from Vaughan deflected by the up rights left the Chiefs leading the Tornadoes 13-7 at the break.

The Tornadoes got the ball to begin second-half play and the NHS defense quickly squashed the Bay drive forcing 3 consecutive incomplete passes. The Chiefs responded with a strong drive downfield on the legs of running backs Mitchell and Roderick Woods, but would ultimately miss an opportunity for points coming up short on a 35-yard field goal attempt.

Early in the fourth quarter Bay inched closer to the Northview lead pinning the offense deep in their own territory before catching Jamie Gafford in the end zone for a safety. With 9:38 to play Bay had closed the scoring gap to 4 points trailing the Chiefs 13-9. NHS quickly responded with another long drive ending in a 4-yard touchdown scamper from Sheets to extend the Chiefs lead. A blocked extra point kick left the Chiefs ahead by ten leading 19-9 with 5:12 to play. Just under a minute later Bay struck back with a big run down the left sideline to pull within 2 of Northview.

The Chiefs’ two-point, 19-17, lead looked to be the preseason meeting’s final before the NHS offense’s last-second heroics between Sheets and Albritton extended the lead to 26-17.

Wheatley said the decision to continue throwing the ball so late in a game they were winning stemmed from the need to get his team as many game-situation reps as possible before the official season begins.

“It was an opportunity to work on our passing game,” Wheatley said. “We probably could have thrown the ball a little more than we did tonight.”

The Chiefs will have plenty of opportunity to work on their passing game and analyze Friday’s win as they will have next week off before opening the 2011 season on the road versus Marianna Friday, Sept. 9.

Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.