Northeast head coach Earl Bates’ Northeast Rams came into C.K. Siler stadium with a point to prove on Monday night: that they were a better team than they showed in their season opener against Eastern Guilford. Point proven.
The Rams shut down the Storm offense beginning on their first drive when Southern failed to gain positive yardage and went three-and-out. The barrage continued throughout the game.
Meanwhile, the Rams scored on their second possession of the game, a nine-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a one yard run by Davion Swaim. The extra point kick was blocked by Southern, and Northeast led 6-0.
The Storm defense kept them in the game all night. In the second quarter Northeast was driving when quarterback Justin Wilson threw an interception to Southern’s Matthew Hedrick. Hedrick returned the ball 42 yards to the Northeast one yard line. On the following play, Hakeem Knight ran the ball into the end zone and tied the score at 6. The Storm’s extra point kick was good and they took a 7-6 lead into halftime.
The third quarter featured no scoring, but the Storm put together a drive that began when the Rams were penalized for roughing the passer and moved the line of scrimmage from the 27- to the 44-yard line. After two Simeon Moye completions (the second a 45-yarder to Cameron Burroughs), the Storm was on the Rams’ four-yard line. The Ram defense burst through the Storm offensive line and made two tackles for loss, pushing the home team to the 9. After an incomplete pass, Southern completed a pass to Cristian Mangual, and he was tackled at the 3, turning the ball over on downs and giving momentum to the Rams.
The Southern offense turned the ball over four times in the final quarter. The Rams were ready, and they capitalized.
Coach Bates put in Ta’rique Ridges at quarterback in the third quarter and he began to make his presence known. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that he got a chance to get more touches that really made the difference for his team.
After a Storm turnover, the Rams were facing 4th and 1 on the Southern 45 yard line. Coach Bates called a timeout and decided to go for it. Ridges saw something before the snap that made the difference in the game.
“Pre-snap I knew the defense was going to tighten up,” Ridges said. “So I faked like I was going outside and went inside. It was textbook.”
Ridges ran the far sideline 45 yards to give his team the lead. The Rams elected to go for two points and were successful. They led 14-6.
The last 6:20 of the game was sloppy, with both teams turning the ball over in the form of two Southern interceptions and one Northeast fumble.
Northeast Coach Earl Bates was happy to get the win against the team he coached just last year.
“These kids have fought extremely hard, faced a lot of adversity, and they showed a lot of heart to come out here and win tonight,” Bates said.
“Our defense carried us tonight. (Southern) didn’t score any offensive touchdowns. We kept saying if we could hang in there long enough we could make a play offensively, and we did.”
Bates spoke highly of the performance of Ridges and said he has been confident in Ridges from the first.
“We made a change there,” he said. “He gave us fresh legs and a spurt. That was a heck of a run he made on that fourth down play, bounced outside and took it to the house. Again, he’s just doing something that we’ve been waiting to see from him.”
Coach Bear Bradley’s team struggled throughout the night facing adversity missing two key players to injury.
“I think that our kids played their hearts out on defense tonight,” Bradley said. “Our defense has played well the last three weeks but we’ve got to get something going on offense. We’re too sporadic on offense right now.”
Bradley said his message was to “keep working, keep busting and keep hoping things are going to be there. Clear our hearts, clear our minds and focus on the opponent at hand.”
The opponent at hand for (0-3) Southern Guilford in four days, when Friday comes, will be the Smith Golden Eagles who are (1-2) on the year. Their game will be at Southern.
Northeast (1-1) faces another winless opponent on Friday night when they battle Western Guilford. The Rams will look to get their second win of the season and improve to (2-1) on the season.
(NEG) Davion Swaim 1 run (kick failed)
(SG) Hakeem Knight 1 run (Jeison Parada kick)
(NEG) Ta’rique Ridges 45 run (Swaim run)
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