Trojans 56, Vikings 31
Difference maker: North Hall senior quarterback Andrew Smith rushed for 226 yards and had a hand in three of its touchdowns.
Stat that matters: The Trojans averaged 15 yards per rush attempt.
Turning point: Leading 21-13 midway through the second quarter, Smith weaved through the line on a keeper and dashed 79 yards for the touchdown.
Who’s next: North Hall visits Fannin County on Friday; East Hall visits West Hall on Oct. 18 in Oakwood.
The North Hall offense displayed crystal clear Friday why its wishbone offense is so hard to stop with a 56-31 win over East Hall at The Brickyard.
With a speedy senior quarterback and other bruising running backs capable of busting a long run, the fourth-ranked Trojans (5-0, 2-0 Region 7-AAA) had three backs go over 100 yards and totaled a season-high 571 yards on the ground.
“I can’t say enough about how hard our guys ran the ball,” said North Hall coach Bob Christmas, who added three defensive stands on fourth down were also big in the outcome. “Our line again did a great job blocking up front.”
North Hall’s four touchdown runs of at least 40 yards were enough to swing the momentum, starting late in the first half.
The Vikings (3-3, 0-3) scored first on a 1-yard run by quarterback Devin Watson, who threw the ball well all night and finished with 331 yards through the air.
Milton Whelchel was his top target with eight catches for 66 yards and a 19-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, along with an 89-yard kick off return for a score in the final seconds of the first quarter.
“To be honest, we may have underestimated East Hall a little,” Trojans’ senior quarterback Andrew Smith said. “Watson played a great game for them.”
In the second quarter, Vikings senior lineman Tyler Thomas was injured on a play and required transport to the hospital, but he was able to motion to the crowd with his arm while being taken away on a stretcher by medical personnel. After the game, East Hall coach Bryan Gray had not received an update on Thomas’ condition.
Smith provided the biggest punch to their offense with a game-high 226 rushing yards and a 40-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Seid early in the first quarter to tie the score at 7-all.
“Andrew’s such a talented player,” said Gray, who has said from the beginning of the season he thinks the North Hall quarterback is the best football player in the area.
Smith’s longest run came on a 79-yard touchdown run with 4:59 left before halftime, extending North Hall’s lead to 28-13. He added a touchdown on a 14-yard scamper in the third quarter.
However, North Hall’s offense is so versatile it’s impossible to defend only one primary ball carrier. Tied 7-7 in the first quarter, Brannon Dyer (105 yards) took the ball 89 yards to the end zone on the first player of the drive.
Zac Little had 15 carries for 180 yards. His 55-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter put the Trojans ahead 21-13, and his 24-yard score on the final play of the first half put them ahead 35-19.
Little added a 9-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.
But as good as North Hall’s running game was, it struggled trying to stop Watson’s precise passing for the Vikings. East Hall’s quarterback was successful on 36 of 54 pass attempts, and completed passes to seven different receivers, along with rushing for three touchdown runs, two coming in the fourth quarter.
Dre Brawner also caught eight passes for 66 yards for the Vikings, while tight end Junior Lee had seven for 52 yards.
“Our offense did very well in working out the kinks from last week,” Gray said, following a 6-0 loss against White County the week before. “And our defense fought extremely hard, so I’m extremely proud of my players.”
North Hall faces Fannin County on Friday in Blue Ridge; East Hall visits West Hall after a bye on Oct. 18.