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North Hall runs past Chestatee, 32-20
Tate's 3 TDs spark Trojans to opening victory over county rival
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Chestatee’s Tommy McCormack, left, blocks a pass intended for North Hall’s Taylor Ryder during the second quarter of Friday night’s game at War Eagle Stadium. - photo by J. Bryan Stiles

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Even though North Hall coach Bob Christmas said he’ll be comfortable with a running back-by-committee approach this season, senior T.J. Tate certainly made a strong pitch to be the No. 1 back in the run-heavy offense against Chestatee on Friday at War Eagle Field.

Tate carried the ball 14 times for 113 times and two rushing scores, including a big 39-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, sending the Trojans on to a 32-20 win.

“It felt great to help the team like I did,” Tate said. “All the credit goes to the offensive line for doing a great job.”

The win was especially important to North Hall’s coach after the Trojans dropped their first three games of 2011. Chestatee senior Quan Clark led all running backs with 23 carries for 123 yards, and A.J. Sijiye added a 45-yard score for the War Eagles late in the fourth quarter.

“Chestatee has a strong program and is certainly going to win some games this season,” Christmas said.

However, when all totaled, North Hall’s running game owned the night, combining for 327 total rushing yards between 11 running backs. The only big difference for the Trojans this season is the wishbone formation that will be their primary design at the line of scrimmage, rather than the previous Wing-T offense.

Tate moved back to North Hall to play his senior season after playing the past two seasons in North Carolina and his freshman season in Buford. However, he’s well used to the way North Hall played, having spent his middle school years in the program.

Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter, Tate scored on a run from the 5 on a fourth down. Later in the second after a War Eagles turnover on a bad snap on a punt attempt, Tate scored on the first play of the drive on a pass from Bradley Brown from the 19.

However, Tate made his biggest statement early in the fourth quarter. Leading 21-14 and facing a third-and-6, Tate broke through for a gain of 26. Two plays later, he scored on a 39-yard run.

“I thought all of our running backs ran the ball really hard tonight,” Christmas said. “And they’re still learning the offense, so I’m really proud of them.”

North Hall’s final points off Chestatee turnover came just two minutes after Tate’s final score of the night. Starting at the 19, Brown carried the ball for a gain of 12, setting up a Modesto Cruz field goal of 22 yards.

Trailing 32-14, Chestatee came downfield and scored quick midway through the fourth quarter on a 45-yard run from sophomore Sijiye of 45 yards, also the final score of the game.

Chestatee finished the game with 223 rushing yards. However, turning the ball over on downs on all three fumbles proved too costly.

“When the ball winds up on the ground, you like to come up with it,” said Christmas. “But we also turned it over some too.”

North Hall also had three turnovers.

Early, the War Eagles dominated the ground game. Chestatee’s first drive ended on a fumble.

Then on its second drive, the War Eagles moved steadily downfield and scored on a 34-yard pass from Jordan Degraff to Kelly Arthur. Degraff scored on a run from the 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter, drawing to within one score of North Hall.

Brown (70) and Kevin Christmas (62) were North Hall’s other leading rushers.

North Hall plays host to Johnson on Friday at The Brickyard; Chestatee visits West Hall at Spartan Field.

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