Chiefs fall 25-21

Published 11:06 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Northview Chiefs defenders take down a Chipley Tigers in the Chiefs’ state semifinals match up Friday night. The Chiefs fell 25-21 giving the Tigers the opportunity to play for the state championship.

A missed opportunity with less than a minute left took the air out of Northview’s stadium on Friday night as the Chiefs fumbled to give Chipley the ball and a win, 25-21.

The loss cost Northview a trip to next week’s state 1A championship game in Orlando.

The Chiefs (8-4) looked to be in control of their own destiny for a majority of the game until the Tigers took the lead with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter.

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A fumble cost Northview a chance at late touchdown, but the hard fought effort was enough to make a coach proud, Chiefs head coach Sid Wheatley said.

“They played extremely hard all night long,” he said. “Usually these games are decided by a play here or there and we had a couple mistakes down the stretch. I was proud of our guys will to play for a win.”

Northview was without quarterback Brandon Sheets, who was suspended earlier in the week for unsportsmanlike conduct in last week’s playoff game. Northview’s appeal was denied Thursday by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

For Northview Friday night, the first quarter looked like it would be another high-scoring affair as they scored two early touchdowns, with La’Mikal Kyles scoring on a 25-yard run and then again on a five-yard run after the Chiefs recovered a Chipley fumble.

With both sides energized, the Tigers showed they would make it a game as they scored on a 78-yard run to pull them within eight points following a missed extra point.

The two sides traded possessions and looked to be in a stalemate until the Tigers found the end zone again on a 37-yard run that made the score 14-12 following a failed two-point conversion.

Northview looked to score before halftime, but an interception by quarterback Kevin Vaughan, starting for the suspended Brandon Sheets, took the game into halftime with the Chiefs leading by two.

Following halftime, the Chiefs bolted out of the gate as they scored on the first play from scrimmage. On the play, Kyles received a toss from Vaughan and hit receiver Austin Albritton on a 74-yard pass that put the Chiefs up 21-12.

On the next Chipley possession, the Chiefs defense forced a three-and-out and looked again as if they would begin to pull away from the Tigers as defensive lineman Brian Ross bulldozed through blockers to block the punt and set up the Chiefs on the Tigers 16.

Northview could only gain six yards on the drive and missed on a field goal opportunity to hold their lead 21-12.

The Chiefs forced another Chipley punt on the next series, but fumbled on their own possession to set up the Tigers with decent field position.

Chipley took advantage of the turnover and turned it into six points on a one-yard run after several big plays to get down the field.

Leading 21-18, the Chiefs punted the ball back to Chipley, but again traded stops by holding the Tigers on a fourth down try to get the ball back with time winding down.

It came down to another fourth down for Northview on their drive and an illegal procedure turned fourth and one into fourth and six to force a punt.

With the ball, the Tigers went to the air and connected on a 55-yard pass that gave them the lead 25-21 with 1:11 left in the game.

Northview got great field position and quickly drove to the Tigers 21, but on second down in a wildcat formation, Kyles and running back Roderick Woods had a bad exchange on a handoff as the ball hit the ground and Chipley fell on it.

With the ball and time on their side, the Tigers ran the clock out on the Chiefs season to win 25-21.

Chipley’s efforts to stay in the game were a tribute to how they play, WHeatley said.

“Chipley responded all night,” he said. “They made plays to keep us out of the end zone and they hit the big pass that was back breaking for us.”