CHAMBLEE — North Hall coach Bob Christmas saw the same effort out of his team that they played with all season in their second round playoff game against Dunwoody on Friday night at North DeKalb Stadium in Chamblee.
But a 10-0 halftime deficit, and troubles getting any consistency on offense proved too much to overcome as the Trojans’ season ended with an 18-13 loss to Class AAA’s third-ranked Wildcats.
“These kids played hard tonight, and I thought we were going to have a chance to win it,” Christmas said. “I thought the defense played great except for some critical downs, but on offense we never got in sync and struggled all night offensively.”
North Hall’s troubles putting any offense together proved costly. The Trojans (8-4) were held to only 21 first-half yards, and ended the game with only 65 yards total yards. That’s a big contrast to the 410 yards that Dunwoody (12-0) had on offense.
Still, the Trojans managed to make a game out of it in the third quarter thanks to a special teams spark.
Trailing 15-0, North Hall senior Beau Dehass returned a kickoff return for a touchdown as time expired in the third quarter.
That gave the Trojans some life going into the fourth quarter.
Dunwoody fumbled the ball at its own 15, which was recovered by North Hall’s Ross Biggers.
The Trojans scored on a 15-yard run from Avery Nix on the first play after the turnover to narrow Dunwoody’s lead to 15-13 with 11:03 left to play.
Christmas was hoping that his team was setting up for a last-minute game-winning field goal like last week’s first round win against Hart County. Dunwoody had other ideas.
The Wildcats took over at its own 43, and marched down the field to the North Hall 1 to set up Austin Breed’s 18-yard field goal to make the game’s final score. Dunwoody moved down field to set up the field goal thanks some steady running from Dalen Claytor.
Dunwoody had first-and-goal at the 1, but were unable to score a touchdown that would have put the game out of reach. Treaver Scales led the Wildcats on the night with 19 carries for 124 yards.
North Hall managed to keep it within range thanks to a great defensive effort.
Junior linebacker Thomas Sprague led the Trojans with 20 tackles and finished the season with 173 tackles. Christmas is clearly looking forward to having Sprague back in the mix next season.
“He did phenomenal,” Christmas said. “Thomas has a tremendous knack for the football, and he’s still growing.
“He’s going to be a 225-pound linebacker next season.”
Another player with a good night for North Hall was junior defensive back Nathan Jones with 12 tackles.
Dunwoody coach James Teter — who recorded win No. 100 with the Wildcats — knew it was going to be a struggle to get past North Hall.
“We knew coming into this one that North Hall had as good of a defense as any team we’ve faced all season,” Teter said.
Dunwoody took an early lead in the first half thanks to a good mix of run and pass. In the first quarter Claytor had a 39-yard reception, followed by a 27-yard catch by Scales that set up a 33-yard field goal by Breed.
The Wildcats scored early in the second quarter on a 41-yard touchdown catch by Andy Mills from quarterback Erick Cooper. Scales finished as the game’s leading receiver with 12 catches for 84 yards.
Dunwoody faces the winner of today’s Thomson and LaGrange game in the state quarterfinals. North Hall’s season is now complete.