OAKWOOD — North Hall’s Zac Little could have left the field feeling like a star after Friday’s 48-10 win against West Hall at Spartan Field. He had two long touchdown runs for the Trojans (7-1, 5-0 Region 7-AAA) and a team-high 146 rushing yards as North Hall secured a home game to open the playoffs and stayed in the driver’s seat for the region championship.
Instead, though, Little was more frustrated by the team’s inconsistent play, primarily three turnovers in the second half.
“Personally, I thought we slacked tonight and didn’t play as well as we could,” said Little, a junior.
To an extent, North Hall coach Bob Christmas felt the same way. Even though the Trojans jumped out to a 34-0 lead in the first half and rushed for 420 yards in the game, three fumbles in the second half kept it from being a smooth performance from start to finish.
“I thought we played good in the first half and were flat in the third quarter,” Christmas said. “We can’t afford to do that and expect to beat good teams in the playoffs.
“I give West Hall a lot of credit because they continued to fight hard the entire night.”
Still, the path to a region title is clear for North Hall. After Buford (5-3, 3-2) forfeited two region games earlier in the week for playing an ineligible player, the Trojans are left needing one win in their final two outings to claim their first region championship since 2007.
The Trojans can lock up the region championship against Banks County on Friday at The Brickyard. North Hall wraps up the regular season against Buford on Nov. 9 at Tom Riden Stadium, a game Christmas knows will be a battle.
“I feel for Buford because that was a bad situation for them,” Christmas said. “I know forfeiting two games will give them more incentive than ever to finish strong.”
On Friday, North Hall did everything right early. Trojans quarterback Bradley Brown scored the first of his three touchdowns on the game’s first drive, then threw a 30-yard pass to David Epps for a score on the next possession, and Little rushed it in for a 50-yard score to give North Hall a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
Brown also scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 19 yards in the second quarter.
North Hall played eight running backs in the first half and 10 recorded carries on the night. Brown had 12 carries for 75 yards and T.J. Tate finished with 15 carries for 73 yards.
Chase Jarrard had the only touchdown for West Hall (3-5, 2-3) when he scooped a fumbled late in the first half and ran it in for a 40-yard touchdown.
North Hall’s success running the ball also opened up some passes that went for long yardage. After grinding it down the field running on the second drive of the game, Brown found Epps wide open across the field for the 30-yard touchdown.
Then in the second quarter, Brown hit running back T.J. Tate for a 27-yard gain. Little kept the drive alive two plays earlier with a 13-yard run on a fake punt.
In the second half, Little added a 36-yard touchdown run for the Trojans, and Andrew Smith threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Ryder in the final minutes of the game.
North Hall’s defense played well the entire night, holding West Hall to 135 yards of offense. The Spartans were held without a first down until late in the first half.
Despite the Trojans’ turnovers, the defense kept the damage minimal. West Hall’s only points off North Hall turnovers in the second half came on a 32-yard field goal by Connor Kirkland midway through the third quarter.
Destin Bennett led North Hall’s defense with 12 tackles and Smith had nine.
Spartans quarterback Zach English finished with 45 rushing yards and 37 passing.
On Friday, West Hall visits White County in Cleveland.