Rams rally to beat Barons By Cal Bryant 09/29/2007 GATESVILLE – By his own account, Northampton-East head coach Greg Watford said his team was #8220;hung over#8221; after having to make-up a game on M

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

GATESVILLE – By his own account, Northampton-East head coach Greg Watford said his team was “hung over” after having to make-up a game on Monday night.

Watford’s Rams “sobered-up” in a hurry here last night (Friday).

Locked in a tight conference battle on the road at Gates County High School, NCHS-East scored twice over a span of 15 seconds late in the second quarter en route to a 40-21 win over the Red Barons.

For the Rams, the victory closed the history book on their bitter 36-33 loss on Monday in Creeksville against county rival Northampton-West. That game was moved from Sept. 21 due to rain.

“It took us about a quarter and a half to get over our hang over from Monday night, but we were okay after that,” said Watford of his club that improved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in league action.

Trailing 21-19 late in the second quarter, the Rams caught a break when Gates County rolled the dice and attempted to move the chains on a 4th-and-8 play from midfield. An incomplete pass gave NCHS-East the ball with 3:29 showing on the first half clock.

After three running plays gave the Rams a 1st down at the Gates 40, quarterback LaQuan Tann faked the ball to his fullback, squared his shoulders upfield and took off untouched on a 40-yard scamper to the endzone. The PAT was good and the Rams, although they didn’t know it at that time, took the lead for-keeps at 26-21.

East found the endzone again 15 seconds later.

A bad pitch on 1st down for Gates County resulted in a fumble recovered at the Red Barons 27 yardline by East linebacker William Bellanca. One snap later, Tann connected with a wide open James Long in the right corner of the endzone. Coupled with the PAT kick, the Rams gained a 33-21 halftime lead.

Despite the two old football rivals combining for 54, first half points, the scoring was limited over the final 24 minutes of play. While both teams had their chances, it was NCHS-East who scored the only TD of the half. That came on a four-yard run by Rashawn Mercer with 4:26 left in the game. Mercer’s score was set-up when Bellanca blocked a Gates punt at the four yardline.

Although Gates County has yet to etch a “W” this season, they looked like a team to contend with in the first half.

The Red Barons took the game’s opening kick-off and set sail on a beautifully executed 13 play, 63-yard drive capped by John Ashley’s one-yard dive to paydirt. Chase Harmon’s PAT staked the ‘Barons to a 7-0 lead at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter.

Gates’ game-opening drive, all on the ground, was highlighted by five carries for 27 yards by Damien Eason.

Laquan Jacobs returned the ensuing kick-off 80 yards to paydirt, but the TD was wiped off the board on a holding penalty against the Rams. That mistake put the pigskin at the 23 yardline from where, on the Rams first snap of the game, Tann, using a great block downfield from Corey Neal, darted 77 yards to paydirt. The PAT kick was blocked by Cody Lockley, leaving Gates County with a 7-6 lead.

The Red Barons answered with a 54-yard kick-off return by Derrick Eason, putting the ball at the Rams 31 yardline. Four plays later, Derrick Eason tossed a perfect, 27-yard scoring pass to Raphael Nickens. Harmon added the PAT for a 14-6 Gates lead at the 3:55 mark of the opening period.

Just as they had done on their first possession, the Rams struck quickly on their next series. Starting at their own 33 yardline, Tann ran for 14 yards on 1st down followed by a 53-yard TD run from Jacobs, slicing the East deficit to 14-12 after the failed two-point conversion.

Tann (a game-high 171 rushing yards on 14 carries) and Jacobs (9-107) proved to pack a potent one-two punch for the Rams, who finished as a team with 340 yards on the ground.

Not to be outdone, Gates County came right back to score on their next possession, extending their lead to 21-12. A big 43-yard scamper by Damien Eason, one where he started left and cut back all the way across the field, set-up that score, which came on a three-yard run by Ashley.

The Rams sliced into the deficit once again, striking paydirt at the 7:18 mark of the second quarter on a 46-yard run by Jacobs that accounted for the 21-19 score before East used their 14-point explosion over a 15-second span later in the period to fully recover from their “hang over.”

Gates County (0-7 overall and 0-2 in league play) accounted for 201 yards of total offense. Damien Eason led that effort with 87 rushing yards on 15 carries. Rodney Bell chipped in 57 yards on 10 attempts while Ashley added 47 yards on 13 bruising carries.