Halifax holds off Northeast

Published 8:40 am Monday, September 5, 2011

By Willie McLawhorn

Sports Writer

LASKER — Those who ventured out Friday night for a little football entertainment following a week of Hurricane Irene’s aftermath, were not disappointed.

The rivalry between the Halifax Academy Vikings and the Northeast Academy Eagles lived up to expectations of a rivalry game with the outcome not determined until the final play as a 15-yard pass from Eagle quarterback Ryan Williams to Benton Barrett fell incomplete in the end zone.

In a game that saw neither team have more than a 10-point lead, the Vikings left town with a 30-28 hard earned victory, leaving one side of the field elated and the other side deflated.

It all began innocently enough with the Eagles drawing first blood.

Following a Halifax punt, the Eagles drove 74 yards on six plays to take the early lead as Williams scored from the two-yard line.  The highlight of the drive was the opening play from scrimmage as Williams hit Joseph “Pablo” Brown with 59-yard pass play setting the Eagles up on the 15-yard line.

With Josh Thaxton under center and running back J.W. Thomas sharing the load, the Vikings responded with a seven-play, 43-yard touchdown drive of their own which was set up by a kickoff return of 42 yards by Thaxton.

Thomas carried the ball the final four yards of the drive for the score.  The two-point conversion was successful and Halifax held an 8-6 lead with 3:04 left in the first quarter.

Neither team could muster a drive until with 6:28 left in the half,

Northeast took the lead with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Williams. Following a penalty to start the drive, the Eagles drove 86 yards in 11 plays.  The drive was kept alive early on by a 17-yard pass play from Williams to tight-end Clay Robbins.  The running of Adam Creech and Bo Daniel moved the ball down the field. Following the touchdown, the Eagles held a 12-8 lead.

The Eagle defense then held and Halifax turned the ball over on downs at the Eagle 23-yard line.  The Eagles failed to run out the half and turned the ball over on downs to the Vikings at their own 46-yard line.

With 25 seconds left on the clock, the Vikings were able to score quickly as Thomas was able to break loose on a 46-yard scamper giving the Vikings a 14-12 lead at the half.

The second half began with Northeast not being able to move the ball and having to punt. Halifax took over at midfield and drove to the 12-yard line on running plays by Thaxton and Thomas with Thomas taking it in from the 12 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.  This gave the Vikings a 22-12 lead.

But the Eagles were not finished.

They responded with a 54 yard, five-play drive capped off by a 35-yard pass play from Williams to Barrett. This brought the Eagles to within two points (22-20).

Halifax then punched back with a 58 yard drive, as Thaxton and Thomas chewed up the yardage with Thaxton carrying the final three yards to put Halifax back up by 10, 30-20 with 11:25 left in the game.

Still, the Eagles would not give up as the intensity picked up and the tension of a rivalry game became evident.

An 11-play, 55 yard drive ensued culminating with the Eagles scoring on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Robbins with 7:15 left in the game.  The two point conversion was good and Northeast was again within two points at 30-28.

Needing a defensive stop, the Eagles defense stepped up. Aided by some Viking holding penalties, the Eagles forced a punt and took over at their own 23-yard line with 3:58 left in the game.

The Eagles were able to drive to the Viking 15-yard line on the strength of the running of Daniel and the passing of Williams. The game ended as the Eagles had two opportunities from the 15-yard line, and just could not connect giving the Viking sideline a great celebration and the Eagle sideline left to pick up one another.

Eagles’ first year head coach, Stevie Flythe said after the game, “We played our hearts out, but came up on the short end of the stick.  We played hard and so did Halifax.

“Our hats are off to them,” he added. “Now we have to regroup and get ready for Hobgood.”

The Eagles ended up with 406 total yards to Halifax’s 369. The Eagles rushed for 192 yards with Creech and Daniel having 69 of those yards each.  Williams passed for 196 yards on 12 of 28, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Halifax rushed for 272 yards with Thomas gaining 197 of those yards and scoring three touchdowns.