After being down 21-6 early in the third quarter, the Northwest Guilford Vikings completed a monumental comeback to squeak by the Southeast Guilford Falcons in overtime by a score of 28-27 on Friday night at R.L. Billings Stadium in Greensboro.
The Vikings were able to recover from a late-game turnover inside the red zone as they completed the comeback on a Johnny Pagano touchdown run with 1:24 remaining to play in regulation.
Southeast was the first to score when quarterback Ryan Douglas bolted 74-yards untouched up the middle with 7:48 left in the second quarter.
Northwest answered on their next possession with a big play of their own.
Johnny Pagano found Cam Cloud for 36 yards, but the Vikings elected to attempt a two-point conversion instead of the extra-point kick. It failed, making the score 7-6.
Southeast looked like the stronger team after the halftime break when the Falcons put together a 14-0 run on their first two possessions.
The Vikings didn’t let the deficit discourage them, head coach Kevin Wallace said.
“The kids flat out believed the whole time, and that’s what made the difference,” he said. “We trained our (team) that the opponents are going to make plays and good teams stay even-keeled. We don’t have ups or downs. Staying in between the peaks and valleys is what kept us in this game.”
Northwest answered the two touchdowns by the Falcons with yet another big pass play. Northwest quarterback Johnny Pagano found Brandon Thomas from 49-yards out with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter to make the score 21-12. The Vikings were successful on their second two-point conversion attempt of the game and the score was 21-14.
The Vikings found success using RB Jacob Hardy more in the fourth quarter. Hardy was able to break free for several substantial runs to give the Vikings important field position. With Northwest on the Southeast 13-yard line and just over 6 minutes to play on the clock, the Vikings’ Pagano lost his helmet after being tackled on a one yard gain. The loss of his helmet meant that Pagano was forced to come to the sidelines for one play, and the Falcons took advantage when Vikings’ back-up, Andrew Gilliam, fumbled on an attempted hand-off. The turnover appeared to be the end of the Vikings rally.
However, the Vikings’ defense stepped up with the game on the line, forcing Southeast to three-and-out, and the offense went back to work.
Northwest was able to capitalize on their second chance, handing off to Jacob Hardy and using Johnny Pagano in a steady diet of ground assault that broke down the Falcon defense. With 1:24 remaining in regulation, Pagano broke into the end zone from four yards out to tie the game at 21.
To say that this overtime was a thrilling one would be an understatement.
Southeast got the first possession and on three consecutive Ryan Douglas quarterback keepers, scored. The Falcons were penalized on their first point-after attempt, which was good, and were forced to retry. On the second attempt, Northwest was able to block the kick. The score was 27-21.
On Northwest’s attempts, the Vikings once again used Pagano and Hardy on the ground to attempt to get the ball into the end zone. Pagano was stopped at the goal line by the Falcons on third down and broke through for the score on a second chance on fourth down. Southeast called a timeout to argue that the play should’ve been blown dead, which would have given the Falcons the victory, but their argument was for naught, as Northwest attempted their point-after kick. As the crowd held its breath, the ball barely cleared the uprights, completing the Northwest comeback and a 28-27 victory.
The Vikings coach praised the ability of his place kicker, David Phillips, to make the extra point and give his team the victory.
“That was a great effort by him at the end,” Wallace said. “It was scary when that thing went up, but it went in and that’s all that matters.”
Southeast head coach Kennedy Tinsley voiced frustration with the call on the final Northwest touchdown, but admitted that it was just part of the Vikings’ surge.
“They out-coached us and out-played us. That’s the bottom line.”
The Vikings improve to (3-0) with the victory and will host their biggest rival, the Northern Guilford Nighthawks, next Friday night at R.L. Billings Stadium.
With the loss, the Falcons drop to (2-1) on the season. Southeast will host Grimsley High School next Friday night as they look to get back on track after the loss to the Vikings on Friday.
(SEG) Ryan Douglas 74 run (Jonathan Medlin kick)
(NWG) Cam Cloud 36 pass from Johnny Pagano (run failed)
(SEG) Jalen Fairley 10 run (Medlin kick)
(SEG) Douglas 38 run (Medlin kick)
(NWG) Brandon Thomas 49 pass from Pagano (Pagano pass)
(NWG) Pagano 4 run (David Phillips kick)
(SEG) Douglas 3 run (kick failed)
(NWG) Pagano 1 run (Phillips kick)
Southeast Guilford Stats:
Ryan Douglas: (13-22) 100 yds; 13 rush, 103yds, 3TD
Jalen Fairley: 11 rush, 24yds, TD
Northwest Guilford Stats:
Johnny Pagano: (9-18) 173yds, 2TD, INT; 24 rush, 70yds, 2TD
Cam Cloud: 7 rec, 99yds, TD
Jacob Hardy: 4 rush, 70yds
Brandon Thomas: 2 rec, 51yds, TD