Barons snap 15-game slide
GATESVILLE – A high school football game is usually split into four, 12-minute quarters.
At Gates County High School last Friday night, the game was played in two parts, the first three periods and the fourth quarter.
The Red Barons broke a 15-game winless streak dating back to early September 2006 by absolutely dominating Northampton-West in the fourth quarter. The 29-22 win also marked the first win in the tenure of first-year coach Matt Biggy.
The game began with Northampton-West at midfield after Gates County squib kicked. However, the good field position was for naught as Gates County senior Raphael Nickens intercepted a West third-down pass early in the first quarter.
Gates County could muster no offense on its first possession and punted the ball back to West after three straight rushes netted no yards.
With 4:28 left in the first quarter, West running back Devin Williams capped off a nice 10-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was run in by quarterback Antonio Manley to give West an 8-0 lead.
The Red Barons were forced to punt again on their second offensive possession, but stopped West on fourth-and-four incomplete pass. With the stop, Gates County took over at the West 24-yardline as time was ticking down in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, senior quarterback Derrick Eason hit Nickens in stride with a 71-yard pass to put Gates County on the scoreboard. The PAT by Chase Harmon was good and the score was cut to 8-7 with only 11 seconds elapsed in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kick-off, Gates County again squib kicked and West began its drive at midfield. An offensive series with 14 straight running plays was capped off by Williams with a three-yard rush up the middle for the score, his second on the night. Williams rushed for the two-point conversion to lengthen West’s lead to 16-7 with 5:53 remaining in the first half.
However, Gates County answered with a nice drive on the next series. Highlighted by a 20-yard pass and catch from Eason to Nickens and a nifty 22-yard run by John Ashley, Gates County moved deep into West territory and had first down from the 35-yardline.
Three consecutive tough runs by Damien Eason had Gates County at West’s 13-yard line. On first down, Ashley ran for the score, despite being grabbed by the face mask, from 13 yards out. Harmon again kicked the PAT and Gates County cut West’s lead to 16-14.
With a little more than two minutes left in the quarter, West took over at their 27-yardline. Three consecutive long passes put West in business at the Red Baron three yardline.
With only 21 seconds remaining in the half, Dasmine Moody ran three yards for the score. The two-point attempt was no good and the half ended with West holding on to a 22-14 lead.
After the Gates County marching band entertained the crowd at halftime, the Red Barons looked like a different team in the second half.
After punting on their first possession, Gates County forced a West punt on the ensuing possession.
After a scoreless third quarter, West ran a total of five offensive plays in the fourth quarter and only 15 plays in the entire second half and Gates County held West to only 15 total offensive yards in the half.
Gates County started their first offensive series in great field position at the West 28-yardline because of the fumbled punt recovered by Chase Harmon.
After five running plays, Rodney Bell ran the final 14 yards to cut the score to 22-20. The successful two point run by John Ashley tied the score at 22-22 with 9:05 left in the game.
On West’s first and only offensive series in the fourth quarter, Ashley recovered a fumble, giving Gates County the ball at their own 38-yardline.
Gates County grinded out 11 straight running plays, all on rushes by Bell and Eason. On second down at the four-yard line, Ashley rushed up the middle for the game winning score with 1:24 remaining in the game. The PAT by Harmon was good and made the final score 29-22 for Gates County’s first win on the year.
Bell finished the night with 95 yards on 13 carries and one score. Ashley chipped in 53 tough yards on eight carries and two scores.
Quarterback Derrick Eason connected on three of four passes for 116 yards and a score. Raphael Nickens caught two balls for 91 yards and a score.