East Hall had just one win on the season coming into the in-county rivalry and Region 7-AAA matchup with West Hall. But, as in most rivalry games, records didn’t matter.
The Vikings (2-4, 2-1 7-AAA) were able to score all the points they would need in the first half to beat the Spartans (2-4, 0-2), but they added another touchdown and a field goal for good measure in the fourth quarter for the 24-7 win.
“Any time you can beat a quality team like West Hall and be in a county rivalry game, you’ve got to be proud of your kids,” Vikings coach Bryan Gray said.
“This week we faced so much adversity with injuries and kids not being able to play tonight. I really think a lot of our kids were scared and asking, ‘Can we pull this off? They’re so good.’ We really showed some backbone. I’m really impressed with the competitive fire a lot of our kids showed tonight.”
Safety Noah Dyer put the momentum in East Hall’s favor early as the Spartans were moving deep into Vikings territory. West Hall quarterback Jacob Satterfield dropped back and threw a pass in the direction of Tyquan Statham, but Dyer stepped in front of the pass for the interception.
Vikings quarterback Austin Parker took that momentum and capitalized on it, finding Markese Jackson 10 plays later for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
East Hall continued the trend of keeping the momentum in its direction, sacking Satterfield for a loss of 7 yards on the last play of the first quarter.
Statham did all he could to turn the tide when he used a spin move to break into the open field and take the ball 53 yards to the end zone with just under 7 minutes remaining in the first half.
On the Spartans’ next drive, tragedy struck again. On the second play, Satterfield threw a swing pass to Kwon Williams out of the backfield. Williams caught the ball, but was unable to keep control and fumbled.
Once again, it was Dyer coming up with the turnover for the Vikings as the junior dove on the ball at the 13-yard line. East Hall turned the play into another touchdown as Jackson took a sweep for a 1-yard score.
Following a big kickoff return, which set up a drive in East Hall territory, the Spartans fumbled again. This time, it was on a field goal attempt, but a West Hall player who scooped it up.
After the half, the game never went against the Vikings.
“I really think it was in the second quarter when they got the long kick return on us and we were able to stop them and forced the muffed field goal,” Gray said. “I think that was really the turning point for us because we went into halftime and we weren’t scared anymore. We weren’t intimidated.”
After turning the ball over twice in the first half, Statham (seven carries for 91 yards, two catches for 5 yards) and Williams (10 carries, 57 yards) each had another fumble and Satterfield (6 of 15 passing, 37 yards, two interceptions) was intercepted again, this time by Jacquen Hopkins.
Dyer nearly had another fumble recovery in the second half but it was waved off.
“Noah Dyer is a third-year football player that, as a junior, is an undersized safety and running back,” Gray said. “He’s the epitome of a kid you want on your team. I could not be prouder for a kid like that in this kind of game, against these kids of athletes and a well-coached team that West Hall is for him to have that kind of success.”
Parker, who finished the game 12-of-19 passing for 93 yards and two touchdowns, was calm, cool and collected all game, especially when the pocket broke down and he was forced to make a play. To his coach, that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
“He’s tremendous,” Gray said. “He is so mature beyond his sophomore year. He’s just a level-headed kid and he’s smart. There’s not an ounce of ego in him. His composure tonight steadied us on offense and that’s what really put us over the top.”
Next up for East Hall, a trip to Oakwood to face Johnson. West Hall will host Franklin County for another region game.