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North Hall strikes quickly, holds on to beat Lumpkin 28-20
Lumpkin County running back Cole White finds a hole in the North Hall offense between Jake Meeler, right, and Caleb Shoemaker Friday night during the first half of their game at Cottrell Field at Dahlonega.

DAHLONEGA — North Hall coach David Bishop’s Wing-T offense is designed to pick up bits of yards at a time, wear down the opposing defense and drain the clock.

It did just the opposite in the first half Friday night.

The Trojans scored on three straight offensive plays to claim a 28-20 win against Lumpkin County in a rain-soaked Region 7-AAA contest at The Burial Grounds.

Consistently good field position and some opportunistic play calling by Bishop helped North Hall (5-2, 2-1) bounce back from a region loss to Dawson County last weekend.

“A lot of it was just perfect play calling at the perfect time,” the third-year coach said. “It wasn’t anything magical, that’s for sure. It just happens that way sometimes.”

Lumpkin (3-3, 1-2), however, ran like a proper ground-and-pound offense on its first possession, an 80-yard touchdown drive on 18 plays that spanned 8 minutes, 32 seconds. But the Indians needed some trickery to score, with sophomore Luke Smith (20 carries, 104 yards) taking in a shovel pass on a fake field goal.

“I felt like it was just something we needed to do to get a spark,” Lumpkin coach Shane Williamson said. “We just got a lucky call there and it worked.”

The Trojans’ suddenly quick-strike offense needed just four plays to score on a counter by junior Jack Brown, who eluded a tackler and raced 55 yards to the end zone.

North Hall scored on its next two offensive plays: a 49-yard pass from senior quarterback Jackson Madonna to classmate Maddox Turner and a 38-yard rush by senior fullback Kyle Bacus (16 carries, 135 yards). A pair of punting miscues — a shanked kick then a personal foul — gave the Trojans the short field they needed to quickly grab an early 21-7 lead.

Lumpkin’s next two possessions got off to promising starts before big negative plays ruined scoring chances. The first was an errant option pitch, the second a backward pass that skirted 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage before being recovered.

Williamson called a fake punt in the final minute of the half that his team successfully converted, only for senior David Seid’s interception to snuff out that drive as well.

“We’ve got to overcome those things,” Williamson said. “Our mistakes have not cut out, and when you play good teams, those end up costing you more and more.”

The Indians started strong out of halftime, forcing a three-and-out before stringing together a scoring drive. Senior fullback Zach Matthews broke off a 17-yard run — his longest gain of the day — before junior Cole White (19 carries, 104 yards) powered into the end zone from 8 yards out. A botched hold on the extra point left the score at 21-13.

Lumpkin got another stop, but a personal foul extended the drive and reversed momentum.

“I think that was kind of a tide,” Bishop said. “I think our kids recognized that now we’d have to make a play. And I saw a little excitement in our kids getting fired up about having to make a play. That helped us get down the field.”

North Hall looked like its usual self on that possession, staying in third-and-short situations while chewing up the clock. The 13-play drive went 80 yards in 7 minutes, 36 seconds and ended with Bacus’s 16-yard scoring scoot on third-and-2.

The Indians didn’t answer until junior Julian Hazen’s 7-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes to play. The Trojans recovered the ensuing onside kick and milked the rest of the clock, just as their offense is supposed to do.

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