ATLANTA — I’d seen it before, and so had everybody else wearing dark blue.
Down by a bunch and facing insurmountable odds at the Georgia Dome, the Northside Eagles had once found a way to claw back into a game that they were all but out of. Northside fans had seen it the other way, too, when their team was up a bunch and helplessly watched as an opponent came from behind to win.
But that didn’t happen Saturday.
The Eagles trailed quickly by 21 points in the first quarter against defending state champion Camden County before they or anyone else at the Dome could catch their breath. The Wildcats returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns in the first few minutes and then converted an interception into a touchdown.
“Not that I recall,” Northside head coach Conrad Nix responded when asked if he’d ever coached a team that fell behind by that much that quickly. “It certainly got away from us in a hurry.”
Northside never did fire on all cylinders in a 31-3 loss.
It goes without saying that the 28-point loss certainly isn’t an accurate snapshot of the Eagles’ season. The score was more a result of a never-ending series of unfortunate events.
“We had some chances, and we didn’t do what we needed to do,” senior safety Brandon Brown said. “We didn’t catch any breaks. ... It’s frustrating that we had a game like that here in the championship game.”
As if the return touchdowns weren’t enough, the Eagles (13-2) turned the ball over five times — three fumbles and two interceptions — and did so at very inopportune times.
Right after falling behind 14-0 on the kick returns, a Briar Van Brunt shovel pass was intercepted. Camden County created another touchdown on that turnover.
The second half opened with a fumble on the opening kickoff, and then the Eagles fumbled again on their first play from scrimmage in the half. But the Eagles dodged major damage there, giving up just three points on those two drives.
Receiver Cartrell Brooks was later stripped from behind on one of the Eagles’ longer offensive plays of the game. Add on top of that a number of balls that were thrown just long of open receivers.
“We picked a good night to play real well,” Herron said. “We kind of felt like it might turn into a defensive slugfest, and it kind of did after the big plays on special teams. Northside’s got a great team, and it was probably closer than the score indicated, for sure.”
Those early second half miscues erased any hopes of another magical comeback at the Dome.
Northside had a comeback for the ages in 2007 when Marques Ivory hobbled on to the field with a broken leg and led the Eagles to 24 second-half points in a 31-28 win over Tucker.
But this was a seasoned Camden County team, and it wasn’t going to give any ground.
Northside was going to have to take advantage of any chance — no matter how big or small — to gain some footing. They didn’t do that, and there was no comeback this time.
Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org