After his team gained only 61 yards on 30 carries in its opening-game loss against Southwest, Northeast head coach Bruce Mullen put emphasis on the ground game this week at practice.
The moved paid off in the second half Friday night against Rutland, as the Raiders ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns and came from behind to beat Rutland 15-7. Senior Kory Denson, in only his second start at quarterback, ran for 117 yards and scored both Northeast touchdowns.
“This was a true gut check win for us,” said Mullen, whose team improves to 1-1. “When we fell behind early, we could have quit, but the kids went out and got the job done the rest of the night. I am extremely proud of the effort we got in this football game.
Rutland kicked off to start the game, but a short kickoff was fumbled, and the Hurricanes recovered. They struck quickly, going 55 yards in only five plays, with quarterback Timori Northcutt finding Myles Smith in the end zone for a 30-yard scoring pass.
The rest of the half was scoreless, with Northeast managing only 70 yards of offense against a tough Rutland defense. But after the first drive, Rutland could not move the ball either, managing only 67 yards of offense for the rest of the half.
Northeast finally started to move the football late in the third quarter, and Denson finally got them on the board with a little more than two minutes left in the third quarter when he scored from 6 yards out. When Rutland again failed to move the football, the Raiders struck again early in the fourth quarter. Against what appeared to be a fatigued defense, Denson ripped off consecutive 25 yard runs. One play later, Denson again took off and scored from 18 yards out. After a two-point conversion run by Adonis Greene, the Raiders led 15-7 early in the fourth quarter.
Northcutt tried to rally the Hurricanes with consecutive completions to Smith and T.J Faulks, but consecutive penalties ended any chances of Rutland continuing to drive. Rutland was flagged 16 times for 120 yards.
Mullen was excited about his new quarterback.
“Denson was a wide receiver last year and he has done a great job in both games playing a new position,” Mullen said. “But even more important that is he is becoming a leader on this team, which we were in desperate need of. He, along with everyone else in this team, just went out and found a way to win a football game.”
Northeast ended the game with 203 yards of total offense, while Rutland managed only 183. The Hurricanes ran for only 58 yards on 21 carries