Determination and a steady diet of La’Quan Nora runs was the recipe for victory for Grimsley on Friday night over Northwest Guilford. The Whirlies prevailed by the score of 28-21 at R.L. Billings Stadium.
The Whirlies jumped on the scoreboard on their opening possession of the game. After starting on their 48-yard line, Grimsley’s first drive consisted of 13 plays and lasted just short of six minutes. Bourn Lesane punched the ball 5 yards in to put his team ahead early, 7-0.
Northwest Guilford answered in spades. The Vikings scored twice within three minutes to erase the Grimsley lead.
Cameron Cloud caught a 62-yard touchdown pass for the first Viking touchdown and Brandon Thomas caught a 10-yard pass for the go-ahead score with 0:45 remaining in the first quarter.
The Whirlies went to work after giving up the two touchdowns and scored on their first possession in the second quarter, just as they had in the first. Chris Wiggins ran seven yards to tie the score at 14.
Neither team scored again for the remainder of the first half.
With five minutes to play in the third quarter, Grimsley’s La’Quan Nora burst through the offensive line into the end zone.
“La’Quan is a young kid who is still learning how to play the game,” Grimsley head coach Darryl Brown said of the 6’ 190-pound sophomore. “He carried the ball really well for us tonight and I am really proud of his performance. He’s big and does a good job of running downhill.”
The Whirlies were being led by their running game, and they continued to hand the ball off to dependable No. 27. Nora, a sophomore, finished the game with 32 carries for an impressive 202 yards.
When Chris Wiggins caught a 25-yard pass from Chris Zellous with 8:48 to play, Grimsley was firing on all cylinders and looked to be very much in control of the game.
However, the Vikings weren’t going to give up.
Northwest quarterback Jacob Leonard found Andre’ Donnell from 30 yards out for another Viking touchdown, Leonard’s third of the game.
The Vikings continued to battle all the way down until the very last play. The horn sounded at R.L. Billings stadium as Leonard took the final snap of the game, but his hail Mary attempt was batted down by Grimsley defenders.
Grimsley knew that a victory could mean the playoffs, and, based on their performance, they aren’t ready for the season to end.
“We fought hard because we didn’t know if this was going to be our last game of the season,” La’Quan Nora said. “We played our hardest.”
Coach Brown is glad the team has a shot at the playoffs with the win, but is also happy about the things he sees happening to the football program at Grimsley in the long run.
“It’s a big win for us,” Brown said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow as to whether or not we get in the playoffs, but after a good JV season, this win is evidence to people that things are moving in the right direction. It doesn’t change overnight, but I’m glad they are getting the sense of good things at the end of the year.”
The Whirlies’ fate is now in the hands of the NCHSAA selection committee to see if they will continue their season with a playoff bid or if Friday was their last game of 2017.
Grimsley improves to (4-7, 2-2) with the win. Northwest’s final record in head coach Kevin Wallace’s first season at the helm of the Vikings’ football program is (3-8, 0-4).
(G) Bourn Lesane 5 run (Bentley Faulkner kick)
(NW) Cameron Cloud 62 pass from Jacob Leonard (Preston Cost kick)
(NW) Brandon Thomas 10 pass from Leonard (Cost kick)
(G) Chris Wiggins 7 run (Faulkner kick)
(G) La’Quan Nora 1 run (Faulkner kick)
(G) Wiggins 25 pass from Chris Zellous (Faulkner kick)
(NW) Andre’ Donnell 30 pass from Leonard (Cost kick)
La’Quan Nora: 32 car 202yds, TD
Chris Wiggins: 4 rec 48yds, TD; 4 car 41yds, TD
Chris Zellous: (8-12) 74yds, TD
Bourn Lesane: 5 car 29yds, TD
Jacob Leonard: (18-29) 170yds, 3 TD, INT
Cameron Cloud: 4 rec 84yds, TD
Andre’ Donnell: 2 rec 35yds, TD
Brandon Thomas: 2 rec 12yds, TD