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Hitting time: North Hall bests Chestatee 33-15

Trojans win 8th straight over county rival in bruising opener

POSTED: August 30, 2013 11:44 p.m.

North Hall quarterback Andrew Smith can’t remember the last time he played in such a physical game.

The two-way starter had to suffer blow after blow in Friday’s season opener against Chestatee, but the scoreboard indicated it was worth the pain. The Trojans notched their first win of the year by defeating their neighboring rival 33-15 at The Brickyard.

“It was probably one of the most physical games I’ve ever been in, personally,” Smith said. “Both teams were just coming of the ball very hard, and just running was their bread and butter — right at each other. They got the best of us, and we got the best of them.”

North Hall (1-0) racked up 340 rushing yards out of its wishbone-based offense, demonstrating the Trojans’ prowess on the ground that helped them reach the Class AAA state semifinals a season ago.

Isaac Seid led the attack with 106 yards on carries, including a 74-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that helped the shift the game’s momentum permanently in favor of the Trojans. Brannon rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and Zac Little added 75 yards and a score on eight carries.

“I thought our backs ran hard,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “I thought we were able to take what they gave us. The backs just kept hitting the holes hard. They got hit in the mouth a few times, but then they broke some.
“It’s a good first game for us against a very good opponent.”

The Trojans’ big offensive plays were as timely as they could be. Already sporting a 14-0 lead at halftime, they answered each Chestatee score on the very next drive.

When the War Eagles opened the second half with Blake Buffington’s 5-yard touchdown run that capped off a 64-yard drive and cut North Hall’s lead in half, the Trojans responded accordingly on the next series with Dyer’s 27-yard touchdown run.

Chestatee countered with a monster 19-play drive that included four fourth-down conversions and ended with a 3-yard score by Tray Bryant. A fake PAT turned into a two-point conversion run by Austin Passmore, and suddenly the War Eagles were only down 20-15 with eight minutes left in the game.

Again, North Hall answered when it mattered. Two plays later, Seid found room up the sideline on a sweep and broke into open field for the 74-yard touchdown, the longest play of the night.

“I was really pleased with our offense and how they came back and drove it back down twice after they had scored,” Christmas said. “... (Chestatee) drove down the field on us twice. We can’t let that happen, but they’re very good.”

Chestatee, which successfully converted eight fourth-down attempts on the night, was unable to maintain possession on the ensuing drive and turned the ball over on downs with 5:19 left to play.

North Hall held on to it the rest the way and secured the win with a 9-yard touchdown by Little.

“I think we kind of underestimated them,” Little said. “We felt like we’ve come a long way since last year, and we were ready to go out and smash some heads. They showed us a good game, and I was surprised.”

Little helped set up the Trojans’ first touchdown with 3:35 left in the first half, which broke the monotony of a scoreless first quarter that featured no gains larger than 6 yards for either team.

The scoring drive began after North Hall blocked a punt and forced Chestatee punter Grayson Entrekin to dive on the loose ball at the Trojans’ 49-yard line. With good field position in front of him, Little rattled off runs of 16 and 18 yards before tight end Nolan Tucker took an end around 14 yards for the score and a 7-0 North Hall lead.

Chestatee recovered a North Hall fumble in its own territory later in the second quarter, but the Trojans regained possession on the following play on a fumble recovery that put them on the War Eagles’ 26-yard line. It set up Smith’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Lee Shelton to give North Hall a two-touchdown lead with 1:14 left in the first half.

Smith finished the game with 49 yards on 11 carries while totaling seven tackles in the defensive secondary.

Chestatee quarterback Wyatt Burgess led the War Eagles with 55 yards on 14 carries. Buffington rushed 49 yards on 13 carries, Zac Cheshire added 42 yards on 13 carries and Bryant had 34 yards on 10 carries.

North Hall’s defense held Chestatee to 202 yards and just under 3 yards per snap. The War Eagles were limited to 43 first-half yards.

“Defense played absolutely fantastic in the first half,” Christmas said. “We give up fourth-and-4 and fourth-and-5, and then we give up a first down. We have to play great on three downs. We have to work on that, and be more disciplined.”

North Hall has won eight straight against Chestatee dating back to 2006, and is now 11-1 in the all-time series.

The Trojans visit Johnson next Friday, while Chestatee hosts West Hall.


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