For North Hall’s football team, to say last year’s blowout loss to Chestatee opening week left a sour taste in its mouth would be an understatement.
On Friday night, David Bishop’s Trojans returned the favor.
Daniel Jackson took the Trojan’s first offensive exchange 74 yards to the end zone — one of five scores overall — and added a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half as North Hall unleashed an offensive onslaught with 546 total yards in a 63-7 rout of its in-county rival at the Brickyard.
It was a sweet triumph for head coach Bishop’s squad that captured win No. 17 in the series, not to mention it broke in the newly renovated Lynn Cottrell Field nicely. The school unveiled a brand-new digital scoreboard and projected a warm thank you addressed to North Hall alum Lynn Cottrell, who made a generous donation earlier this year to help renovate the school’s athletic facilities.
“Good to have a win, especially after last year — the way that things went over at their place,” Bishop said of last season’s 42-12 defeat at War Eagle Stadium. “Our kids just did what they had to do.”
The Trojans (1-0) in their trademark Wing-T used a lethal combination of speed, deception and solid blocking up front to build a towering lead they would never relinquish. North Hall rattled off 56 unanswered points through the start of the third quarter, and nine ball carriers accounted for 466 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback David Seavey had two rushing touchdowns behind Jackson, followed by Drew Faulkner (51 yards) and Jacob Dickey.
And when not on the ground, Seavey accentuated the offense with a 61-yard scoring connection with Jackson off the post. The four-step dropback and hookup in-stride along the home sideline was the first of two pass completions by Seavey for the contest, putting North Hall ahead 35-0 midway through the second quarter.
The output of this balanced attack allowed for Bishop to give others such as Dickey opportunities for reps.
“When you’re able to put pressure on a defense to have to stop the run, the guys I got right now, Daniel and JT (Fair) are quick enough to get behind them and take them two steps in the wrong direction,” Bishop said. “And you know, we’re just gonna take advantage of what we have, and how we do that every week."
Jackson, who finished with 308 all-purpose yards, gave most of the credit to a stout offensive line creating those gaps.
“The blocking tonight was just tremendous,” said Jackson, who also had a fumble recovery on defense. “Every play, when it wasn’t me it was another back. ...When I got the ball, (the defense) was all flowing to our other backs ‘cause they were faking so well. And yeah, it was just a tremendous effort and a great game ... All the way around.”
Chestatee (0-1) fully committing to stopping the buck sweep at certain points gave the Trojans the green light to mix in their signature ‘Tag’ play — a means to lure most would-be tacklers toward the wing. The game-opening score by Jackson, along with Dickey’s first varsity touchdown, were two successful outcomes of the play call. Two additional long-scoring scampers were negated by penalties.
Regardless, North Hall had control from the get-go.
“All we need is two good blocks, and with the speed we got this year it’s tough — tough to play,” Bishop said.
And it was aided by a stifling Trojans defense that pounced on four of five Chestatee fumbles and forced a pair of turnovers on downs. War Eagles starting quarterback Christian Charles was sacked three times and was often flushed out of the pocket.
Logan Hawthorne fronted the advance by creating chaos in the trenches, sniffing out Chestatee’s read option with back-to-back sacks to force a punt on the third offensive drive from scrimmage. He came right back five plays later, falling on a Chestatee fumble berthed by a swarm of North Hall defenders near the backfield.
North Hall converted the game’s first takeaway into a 7-play scoring march for a 14-0 lead.
A big-time stop for a loss by Austin Sullens on fourth down berthed North Hall’s third scoring drive. Seavey and Clark Howell were two others to fall on the football in the contest.
With 10:24 left in the third quarter, Charles put Chestatee (0-1) on the board with a long rushing touchdown.
Non-region play picks back up for both squads next Friday, as North Hall visits Jackson County, while Chestatee plays Dawson County in Dawsonville. Both games are 7:30 p.m. kickoffs.
Why North Hall won: North Hall used a ruthless ground attack to score on six of its first eight offensive possessions, and the Trojans never looked back.
Key stat: Senior running back Daniel Jackson racked up 308 all-purpose yards with five total touchdowns.