Coming up short

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nortvhiew’s MJ Jones (2) catches an interception during the first half of Friday night’s game at Vernon. Luke Ward (1) was also there as a back up.  | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Nortvhiew’s MJ Jones (2) catches an interception during the first half of Friday night’s game at Vernon. Luke Ward (1) was also there as a back up. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Northview fell 8-7 to Vernon in 1st round

Vernon, Fla. — Northview’s defense played lights out, but Vernon made one big play that led to a touchdown and the Yellow Jackets held on despite a late Chiefs surge to win 8-7 Friday night in the FHSAA’s Class 1A regional semifinal.

“Our kids fought extremely hard (Friday night),” NHS head football coach Sid Wheatley said.

Within two minutes of the contest, the Chiefs’ defense stopped the Yellow Jackets with an interception in the end zone to cause the first of several turnovers in the game. VHS handed the ball over six times compared to Northview’s two on the night.

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While a game can be determined on how many turnovers are given up, it was a big play by Vernon that was the difference in the game.

In the early moments of the fourth quarter, Vernon’s Darrius Peterson waited and found a hole on the right end, where he raced 74 yards down the field. At the end of the play, it looked like a Chiefs defender knocked the ball loose, but the referees didn’t call a touchback.

Instead, the Yellow Jackets had the ball at the 1-yard line, and after a few tries, Peterson ran the ball in from the 1 to score his team’s first touchdown of the game. With the 2-point conversion, VHS took a 8-7 lead it would never give up.

Wheatley said during the second half, the Chiefs’ team felt like it needed to add another touchdown to gain favorable momentum.

“We felt like in the second half, especially in the third quarter and early fourth quarter that we needed to be able to punch one more in,” he said. “I felt like a second touchdown would’ve been enough. At that time, momentum would’ve been there.

“They would’ve been held scoreless,” he said. “We had opportunities. We were down there a couple times, but never were able to punch it in. “

The Chiefs got the ball back from their own 1-yard line and put together the start of a good drive, but not converting a fourth-down play iced the game for the Yellow Jackets.

Earlier in the game, Northview’s defense held VHS on a short 7-yard drive early in the second quarter, and that led to the Chiefs drawing first blood on a stellar reverse play.

On a second down play and at the Yellow Jackets 12-yard line, NHS quarterback Gavin Grant pitched to Luke Ward who found Toney Harrison for a touchdown pass with 6:32 left in the first half.

The score would stay 7-0 until halftime after two big stops by the Chiefs with a stout third-and-out series and an interception with 1.9 seconds left.

Wheatley said his Chiefs faced adversity throughout the season, which could be summed up as one of highs and lows.

“We’ve been through some adversity,” he said. “They fought through it. They played hard. I can’t question the effort.

“It was a season of wins and losses,” he said. “It was tough. If you look at our schedule, it’s a heck of a schedule when you have 6As and 4As on it.

“The kids continued to fight and got into the playoffs, and one point away of moving to the second round,” he said. “That’s the finality of it. That’s what hurts.”

NHS finishes its season 2-7.