Five rushing touchdowns, including three from Trevon Hester, led the Northeast Rams to a decisive 35-21 victory over the Northern Guilford Nighthawks at Bill Bookout Stadium Friday night.
The first quarter was penalty-ridden and featured sloppy play from both teams. An unusual fumble by the sure-handed Northern Guilford and Wake Forest-bound Michael Frogge inside the Northern 20-yard line gave the Rams a chance to score, but the Northern defense answered and held the Rams to four-and-out.
Northeast began the scoring with Hester’s first touchdown of the night with 9:10 remaining in the second quarter. The Nighthawks were able to answer on their ensuing drive when Will Lenard connected with Frogge from 11 yards out to even the score at 7.
The score remained 7-7 at halftime.
The opening kickoff of the second half was received by Northeast’s Kobie Perez. Perez bolted through a hole and appeared to be headed for the end zone down the near the sideline when he was forced out of bounds at the Northern 20-yard line. The huge return by Perez set up Hester’s second touchdown of the evening, a 20-yard dash on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage in the second half. Jaymar Hall connected with Jaydon Hall in a perfectly executed fake extra-point kick, and the Rams led 15-7.
Hester’s final score of the night came on the Rams following possession when they drove 67 yards and burned 6:23 off the clock. Hester punctuated the drive with a seven yard run; however, the extra point kick failed and Northeast led 21-7.
Rams quarterback Justin Wilson scored the next Northeast touchdown on an 18-yard run with 11:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the extra-point attempt, the Rams once again executed the fake kick connection from Hall to Hall, giving them a commanding 29-7 lead.
Northern Guilford wasn’t going down without a fight. On their ensuing drive, Will Lenard connected with Frogge once again, this time from 14 yards out, for the Nighthawks second touchdown of the night. Northern’s attempt at a two-point conversion failed making the score 29-13.
Northeast scored once again with 2:52 remaining in regulation when Kobie Perez took off again, this time for an 85-yard touchdown, to make the score 13-35 after the extra point kick was no good.
Down by 22, the Nighthawks didn’t give up and had fight left in them, enough to drive 90 yards in two minutes and 21 seconds. Their final touchdown was scored when Will Lenard connected with Rashawn Pleasant from 10 yards to make the score 35-19. Austin Lambeth ran in the two-point conversion attempt, and the final score was 35-21.
Northern head coach Erik Westberg sensed that his team was going to struggle.
“We came out flat,” he said. “I had that feeling going into it a little bit and we’ve got some guys that are banged up. That’s not an excuse, but we came out flat and never recovered from it.”
He praised the play of his defense.
“The defense played great the first half,” Westberg added. “We just had them on the field way too long.”
“We have to go back to work on Monday and prepare for our next opponent. This is an older group, and I think we’re going to rebound well from this.”
When asked if the loss could hurt his team’s chances to win the conference, Westberg was optimistic.
“No, not necessarily,” the coach said. “That’s a good football team over there and this is a tough conference. We both still have Eastern and Western (Alamance) down the road. Anything can happen in this conference, and so our chances are still there.”
The winning coach, Earl Bates, lauded his team for coming together to get the victory.
“It was a big win in a lot of ways,” Bates said. “It was the first time all season that we played as a unit. Tonight I feel like they pulled together and played for each other. The biggest things that they did tonight was play as a team, and we had great results.”
Bates praised Trevon Hester and his offensive line for their performances in the win.
“(Trevon) has done well for us all year,” Bates said. “We have two tremendous young running backs. The most underrated guys are the guys up front that offensive line has been playing well all year long. They have been making holes, and a lot of people don’t talk about the offensive line, but those guys did an outstanding job.”
Bates’ keys to success are simple.
“We just have to get a little momentum, stay healthy, and see how things turn out,” he said.
The Northern Guilford Nighthawks drop to (4-2) overall and (1-1) in the Mid State 2A/3A conference with the loss. Their next game will be Friday night when they take on Eastern Alamance at home.
Northeast Guilford improves to (4-2) and (1-1) in the Mid State 2A/3A conference with the win. They travel to Wentworth next Friday night to take on the Rockingham County Cougars.
(NE) Trevon Hester 6 run (Steven Friel kick)
(NG) Michael Frogge 11 pass from Will Lenard (Garrett Palmer kick)
(NE) Hester 20 run (Jaydon Hall pass from Jaymar Hall)
(NE) Hester 7 run (kick failed)
(NE) Justin Wilson 18 run (Jayd. Hall pass from Jaym. Hall)
(NG) Frogge 14 pass from Lenard (pass failed)
(NE) Kobie Perez 85 run (kick failed)
(NG) Rashawn Pleasant 10 pass from Lenard, (Austin Lambeth run)