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North Hall pulls away late to top Johnson, 28-6
Trojans win opener with 13 new starters
North Hall's Graham Duncan, left, celebrates after his first-quarter touchdown with teammate Thomas Sprague.


North Hall coach Bob Christmas talks about the Trojans' opening win

North Hall junior two-way starter Peyton Wilhoite deserves a new nickname: Mr. Fourth Quarter.

The Trojans’ fullback scored on a 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter and then picked off a Johnson pass only 12 seconds later to help ensure North Hall’s 28-6 win over Johnson on Friday night at The Brickyard.

The Trojans’ new starting fullback also added runs of 20, 17 and 14 yards during the course of the game to keep North Hall’s offense on the field.

With the win, the Trojans now have 17 consecutive regular season wins, and have won 10 straight contests over the Knights. More importantly, the win gives Trojans coach Bob Christmas some peace of mind with 13 new starters playing this season for the back-to-back Region 7-AAA champions.

"Our kids played with a lot of heart tonight and were just tenacious," Christmas said. "They showed me tonight they would give me everything they have."

The Trojans managed to take advantage of the costly Knights turnover in the fourth quarter with a 10-yard touchdown score from Avery Nix with 6:43 left to play.

North Hall’s offense kept its trademark characteristics of its wing-T offense with eight different ballcarriers compiling 225 yards. Wilhoite (85 yards), Matt Christmas (67 yards), and Nix (61) were the leading rushers for the Trojans. Trojans senior quarterback Blayne Gilmer also completed a first-quarter touchdown pass of 8 yards to senior Graham Duncan to take an early 7-0 lead.

Just as important as the offensive numbers, the Trojans showed they can stop a good spread option attack on display by Johnson. The Knights only score was on their second offensive play of the game when junior Anthony Prophet sold his pitch to the running back, kept the ball and ran untouched for a 78-yard touchdown.

Johnson put together promising drives throughout the game, but was continually hampered by turnovers. In the second quarter, the Knights moved the ball into North Hall territory only to have the drive end when North Hall’s Nathan Jones intercepted one of his two passes on the night.

Just as costly for Johnson were penalties. The Knights were hit with eight infractions for 75 yards.

"We can’t hang our heads about this loss," Johnson coach Paul Friel said. "We made way too many mistakes and you’re not going to beat a team of this caliber (North Hall) when you make that many mistakes."

North Hall wasn’t without mistakes, either. The Trojans fumbled the football away on the first play of the fourth quarter. Johnson responded with a 28-yard pass completion from Prophet to Chris Cannon. The Knights turned the ball over three plays later.

"I’m tired of the shoulda, coulda, woulda," Friel said. "We have to get over this game because we have to get ready to another tough game next week."

Prophet finished with nine carries for 101 yards. Mantevius Rucker, a sophomore, added 16 carries for 99 yards for Johnson.

North Hall now enters a difficult stretch of its schedule with a trip to Class AA’s No. 1 ranked Buford next Friday, followed by a home game against Gainesville (1-0) on Sept. 19 at The Brickyard.

Johnson plays host to North Forsyth next Friday at Billy Ellis Memorial in Oakwood.

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