Championship rally: Northeast wins first region title

After trailing by 13 at halftime, the Northeast Raiders came back in the second half to beat Greene County 29-20 on Friday night, securing the GHSA Region 4-AA championship.

The Raiders (7-3, 6-1) were led by quarterback Michael Palmer, who threw one touchdown pass and rushed for two more.

Greene County (4-6, 3-4) quickly got on the scoreboard. It scored a touchdown in the first three minutes, thanks to a 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback William Leslie to J.R. Andrews.

Northeast responded by driving down the field and tying the score on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Michael Palmer with 11:22 left in the second quarter. But Greene County quickly struck back. Sam Barnhart broke a 44-yard run along the right sideline to get into Raiders territory. Leslie later scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak of his own, making the score 14-7 with 10:15 remaining in the half.

Palmer was intercepted in the ensuing drive by Alterreck Branch, and Leslie would connect with Andrews again, this time for a 68-yard pass play that placed the Tigers on the Greene County 12-yard line. Place-kicker Victor Tirado later made a 22-yard field goal with 5:51 left in the half to give Greene County a 17-7 lead.

Shortly before halftime, Palmer was intercepted again, and a 25-yard run from Doug Jones placed the ball on Northeast’s side of the field. As the Raiders tried to score once more before halftime, cornerback Nigel Woodard suffered from an injury with 54 seconds left in the half. Woodard’s injury delayed the game about 25 minutes as the medics worked to cart him safely off the field. After he was placed in an ambulance, the players returned to the field, and Tirado hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired to give Greene County a 20-7 halftime lead.

But in the second half, Northeast came alive. After Palmer broke a 33-yard run to Greene County’s 15-yard line, he later threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Dante Gaston, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 20-13 with 9:21 left in the third.

Greene County got excellent field position after the kickoff but lost a fumble, and Northeast drove back down the other way. Palmer then broke a 41-yard run to get to the Tigers’ 18 and later rushed 10 yards into the end zone. A successful two-point conversion pass from Palmer to Daivene Hill gave the Raiders a 21-20 lead with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

In the final quarter, Darius Jackson scored on a 3-yard touchdown run, and also rushed in a two-point conversion to make the score 29-20 with 11:10 remaining in the game.

Greene County had a chance to score with less than seven minutes left in the game,but an incomplete pass on fourth down gave the ball back to the Raiders, who effectively managed to drain out the clock.