North Hall's football program has a quarterback who can throw, receivers who can get open to catch it, and Trojans coach Bob Christmas isn't afraid to let them loose.
Traditionally a run-first offense in the past under Christmas, the Trojans (1-0) moved the ball 94 yards against Jefferson in the final 2:12 of the second quarter and scored on a 22-yard Shane Doster field goal to take a 17-0 lead into halftime Friday at The Brickyard.
North Hall then held on in the second have to win its season opener 24-21, snapping the Dragons' 22-game regular season winning streak that dated back to 2007.
Doster's field goal was key since it ended up being the margin of victory for North Hall. The Trojans weathered a late rally from Jefferson and two touchdown catches by Dragons junior wide receiver Cole Givens.
"That really did end up making the difference," Christmas said. "The thing I was most concerned about coming in was that Jefferson already had a game under its belt, and it was our first game (Friday).
"Our team responded well."
Trailing 14-0, Jefferson was in position to score late in the second quarter after a catch from Joe Boyd for 36 yards down to the 8. However, on the next play when Dragons (1-1) running back Shaquille Maxey carried down to the 1, the ball was ripped loose and Doster recovered for the Trojans.
"That was a big play, but all three of our turnovers were huge," Jefferson coach T. McFerrin said. "We shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers."
On the scoring drive right before the half, North Hall moved it quickly down the field with passes from junior quarterback Kanler Coker to D.J. Miolen for 20 yards, Randy Olson for a gain of 25, and Darius Curry for 11 yards. Coker passed for 90 yards in the first half and 135 yards on the night. The two-minute offense was a byproduct of being able to mix in the run and pass efficiently.
"The reason it worked so well is that the offensive line was playing great," Coker said. "We feel like we can do a good job mixing up the run and the pass."
"Our offense is flexible enough to let us do what we feel like we do best on offense," Christmas added.
After Jefferson's Drequn Sewell returned the second half opening kickoff 90 yards for a score, narrowing the Trojans' lead to 17-7, North Hall mounted another long scoring drive that started with a 14-yard strike to Miolen, an Air Force verbal commit, and a 12-yard pass to senior Mack VanGorder. The Trojans primarily used short and intermediate passes and nice yardage after the catch all night.
Even with success for North Hall throwing the football, it didn't neglect the running game, which is the staple of the Wing-T offense. After the completion to VanGorder early in the third quarter, he reeled off a run for 13. The drive ended when Amin Aziz scored on a run from the 1 on third and goal.
In the second quarter, North Hall scored 17 points, including a 17-yard scoring run from VanGorder and a 4-yard pass to junior C.J. Curry on a fade route to the corner of the end zone.
With North Hall leading 24-7 late in the third quarter, Jefferson started moving down field behind the arm of sophomore quarterback Bryant Sherriffs. He spread his passes around primarily to Givens (88 yards), Hoytes Damons (67) and Joe Boyd (48). Sherriffs completed his first touchdown pass to Givens on a throw from the 23 with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter. Then early in the fourth, Givens slipped right through coverage wide open for a 61-yard score.
"I'm proud of the way our team responded in the second half," McFerrin said. "Down 17-0 at halftime, they easily could have packed it in, but they kept fighting to the end."
For North Hall, VanGorder led the team rushing with 16 carries for 91 yards and Trevor Holbrooks rushed for 46.
North Hall plays host to St. Pius X, a rematch of last season's second round playoff game, at The Brickyard. Jefferson plays host to Dawson County Friday at Jefferson Memorial.