Northeast advances to round two
By Tommy Bryant
LASKER – There’s an old sports saying that speed kills.
It may, but Northeast Academy used time of possession to nullify the speed of visiting Cary Christian here Friday night as the Eagles advanced to the second round of the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association eight-man playoffs with a 40-31 win.
It was the running of sophomore Bo Daniel and senior Benton Barrett that paced the Eagles in the first half and then as a change of pace, first-year skipper Stevie Flythe called on Logan Simonowich in the second half.
“It’s just great,” Flythe said of his first playoff win. “I am proud of these players. They have really come together right here at the end of the seasons – what a great time to hit your peak.”
Following a Cary punt on the game’s first possession, Northeast put together a 16-play drive that encompassed 65 yards to take the early lead.
True to form, it was Barrett and Daniel that carried the ball down the field, helping move the pigskin to the nine-yardline, where Ryan Williams picked up four quick yards.
After running the ball 15 straight times, Northeast decided to catch their opponents off guard and quarterback Brad Johnson connected with Joseph Brown on a five-yard touchdown pass. The conversion failed, but the Eagles led 6-0 with 3:40 to play in the first quarter.
The advantage didn’t last, however, as Cary sophomore William Gomperts returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Jonathan Henderson added the extra point and the Knights led 7-6 with 3:26 to play in the quarter.
The Knights then forced Northeast to turn the ball over on downs at their own 35-yard line. It took just four plays for Cary to score. Quarterback James Peterson connected with Henderson on a 20-yard touchdown pass. The conversion was blocked, but Cary led 13-6.
Northeast came back quickly as Johnson went 62 yards on the first play from scrimmage on the Eagles’ next drive. The two-point conversion was good when Johnson connected with Clay Robbins to give Northeast a 14-13 edge with 11:36 to play in the second quarter.
Cary again answered, however. The Knights drove 50 yards after recovering an on-sides kick. Peterson again tossed a touchdown pass, this time finding Gomperts from 19 yards out. The conversion was again blocked, but Cary led 19-14.
The next drive saw the Eagles find the endzone again. Barrett and Johnson picked up a few yards on the first two plays from scrimmage and the Eagles eventually moved to the Cary 25-yardline. From there, Johnson found Robbins for a scoring strike. The two-point conversion failed, but Northeast led 20-19 with 5:36 to play in the first half.
The Knights appeared to be driving to retake the lead as they moved from their own 34-yard line to the Northeast eight, but Williams picked off a pass in the final seconds of the second quarter to send the Eagles into the locker room with the one-point edge.
The visiting team got the ball first in the second half, but a key defensive play saw Christian Fleetwood knock down a third-down pass. Justin Williford then blocked the Cary punt to give the Eagles the ball on the Cary 35-yard line.
Northeast, however, moved to the nine-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.
On the second play from the Cary 15, Michael Daum broke an 85-yard run. The two-point conversion failed, but the Knights led 25-20.
Northeast again took lots of time off the clock, using an 11-play drive to take over four minutes off the game clock. The scoring pass was a connection between Johnson and Brown. The conversion failed, but Northeast led 26-25.
While the Eagles were methodical, Cary again used the big play as they scored on a 65-yard pass from Peterson to Daum. The two-point conversion failed, but Cary led 31-26 and the third quarter ended with the score the same.
Northeast scored just over two minutes into the fourth quarter when Simonowich struck paydirt from 14 yards out. The conversion failed, but Northeast led 32-31 with 9:37 to play in the game.
After forcing a three-and-out, Northeast scored its final touchdown when the Eagles marched 54 yards on nine plays. Johnson capped the drive with a six-yard scoring jaunt. The two-point conversion was good when Johnson ran it in to give Northeast a 40-31 lead.
Cary was able to move the ball out to their 41-yard line on the next drive, but fumbled and Williford recovered. That allowed the Eagles to run the clock out and advance in the playoffs.
Next week the Eagles, who are now 6-4 and seeded number four in the playoffs, will likely travel to number one ranked Word of God Christian Academy next week.