Tony Lotti is confident West Hall will get things turned around.
With the Region 7-AAA opener just six days away, the Spartans’ coach knows that needs to happen sooner rather than later.
West Hall’s offense failed to produce any points for the second consecutive week in a 27-7 loss to North Oconee on Friday at Spartan Field in Oakwood. The game also marked the first time the Spartans (2-2) have suffered consecutive losses since Nov. 1, 2013.
“When it comes to the offense, it’s just about getting that clicking going,” Lotti said.
“We saw something different the last couple weeks in the style of play of the teams that we played. I really feel like those are going to help us now as we start into the region play.”
West Hall was held to 141 yards of total offense, including just 33 rushing yards by a unit that produced gaudy numbers on the ground on an almost weekly basis last season.
North Oconee (1-2) piled up 380 yards of offense, including 209 on the ground. Running back Canaan McLoud led the way with 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Titans quarterback Sam Middlebrooks completed 7 of 13 passes for 171 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“North Oconee is a good team,” Lotti said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons. I felt like we made plays, (but) we didn’t capitalize on them when we could.”
West Hall’s lone score came on a defensive touchdown by Tyquan Statham, who scooped up a North Oconee fumble and returned it 33 yards to the end zone to cut the Titans’ lead to 10-7 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
North Oconee regained the momentum by recovering a failed onside kick attempt by West Hall on the ensuing kickoff. The Titans responded with a 53-yard scoring drive punctuated by a 9-yard touchdown run by McLoud to push the lead back to 10 points, 17-7.
“We had some misalignments out of a couple of those sets they came out in,” Lotti said.
“That hurt us and kind of allowed them to hit those 5-yard pop deals. We didn’t expect it to run them as much as they did, if I’m being honest with you, but we wanted to get the work against a team that was going to spread us out and throw the football.”
The Titans then forced a three-and-out by the Spartans and got the ball back at their own 49. It didn’t take Middlebrooks long to find Khyrie Moore for a 37-yard touchdown pass to pad the Titans’ lead to 24-7 with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.
North Oconee finished off the scoring with a 39-yard field goal by Simon Clarke with 9:53 remaining in the game.
“We did some things tonight that hurt us,” Lotti said. “I felt like we played hard — a heck of a lot harder than we played last week (against North Hall).”
Da’Marco Canty gave North Oconee its first big play of the night in the second quarter. The senior caught a quick slant from Middlebrooks just in front of a fellow receiver, cut back out to the left sideline and went 65 yards for a touchdown that increased the Titans’ lead to 10-0 with 5:33 left before halftime.
Canty’s big play capped a quick five-play, 95-yard drive that came on the heels of a missed opportunity by the Spartans.
One drive earlier, West Hall quarterback Jacob Satterfield (8 of 19, 108 passing yards, INT) delivered a short pass to Statham, who bolted 38 yards and appeared headed for the end zone before losing his grip on the ball and falling on it at the North Oconee 42. The drive ended with another West Hall punt.
North Oconee started the game in good field position at its own 44 thanks to a good return by Jermaine Browner. The Titans’ drive stall just outside the West Hall red zone, but Clarke hit a 42-yard field goal to put them on top 3-0 with 7:38 remaining in the first quarter.
“We’re all right,” Lotti said. “(The last two games) were non-region games and (Class) AAAA teams who I felt like would put us in some bad situations, and I needed to see how we would respond. I’m not very happy with how we responded sometimes, but we did make some plays here and there and we’ll fix the things we’ve got to fix for next week.”
West Hall hosts Dawson County in the Region 7-AAA opener Friday.