Defense steps up big as Jaguars overcome early deficit to win
Fri. November 04, 2011 at 11:54 p.m. | By J.R. Tidwell
Northridge quarterback Brooks Burns (11) throws a pass while being pressured by Conor Breeden (43) of Hazel Green. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter )
TUSCALOOSA | Northridge picked up a close 19-12 win against Hazel Green on Friday night in Round 1 of the Class 6A state playoffs.
It certainly wasn’t easy.
The woes started early for the Jaguars, who only ran 17 offensive plays in the first half. Not even the scoreboard would light up properly for Northridge at the beginning of the contest.
Hazel Green took a 6-0 lead into intermission after a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.
“I thought the game was sloppy,” Northridge coach Michael Smith said. “We had a lack of focus, which put us in a hole early on.”
The scoreboard sprang to life at the beginning of the third quarter, and so did the Jaguars’ offense. Northridge received the kickoff after halftime and drove the length of the field in four minutes. Brooks Burns (who was 8-for-15 passing with one touchdown) capped the drive on a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Trojans answered in eight plays, scoring on an 18-yard touchdown run.
Northridge then took its first lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Burns to James Cox. Griffin Rudolph’s point after put the Jaguars up by one.
The defense on both sides came alive again after the score, keeping the game close. The Jaguars forced a punt with just over three minutes to go. Northridge only needed to run out the clock, but a 52-yard touchdown run by Demetrius Bass iced the game instead. Antonio Easterwood had 12 carries for 74 yards for the Jaguars.
“We call 6A the ‘Baby SEC,’ and any win is a good one,” Smith said.
The defense for the Jaguars ultimately won the game. Northridge made two interceptions in the first half. The first pick was made by Jamarcus Howard, the second by Landon Church. The opening drive for Hazel Green started in Jaguar territory, but Northridge’s defense forced a turnover on downs. These defensive stops prevented the Trojans from having an insurmountable lead at halftime.
“Our defense created turnovers, and that was what kept us in the ballgame,” Smith said.
The Jaguars’ win also came without the aid of injured star Bo Scarbrough.
“We miss him every day, but this is a new chapter for us, and we have to move on and keep going,” Smith said.
Northridge (10-1) will play the winner of Oxford and Spain Park next Friday.