High School Sports

Northside cruises into second round

WARNER ROBINS -- A week earlier, McConnell-Talbert Stadium hosted an instant classic when Houston County and Northside played in the regular-season finale.

It was the rare full four-quarter game for both, who seemed to have as many running-clock games -- a 30-point lead going into the second half -- as not.

But things returned to normal Friday, with Northside cruising past Northside-Columbus 48-0 in a GHSA Class AAAAA first-round game.

A night earlier, Houston County hammered LaGrange 55-34. It wasn’t a good two nights for the teams from west Georgia. The fifth-ranked Eagles improved to 10-1 while the Patriots’ season ended at 4-7.

And as was the case Thursday night, there were no lingering effects Friday from last week’s Bears-Eagles showdown.

“We did exactly what I was hoping,” Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said after his team clinched its 17th straight 10-win season. “I didn’t want us to take any steps backward. I didn’t want to come out sloppy after a big win, especially starting the playoffs. Once you start getting sloppy, it’s hard to get things back where you need to be.”

That wasn’t a problem.

Northside scored on five first-half possessions and ended the half on the Northside-Columbus 11-yard line, letting the clock run out. Another score came on Rakwon Young’s 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

“Last year, I had one and dropped it,” Young said. “It came right to me.”

Northside will next host Region 7-AAAAA’s Dalton (9-2), a 23-0 winner over Salem.

The Eagles left points on the board at the end of the first half, and backups turned in two quality drives on Northside’s lone possessions of a second half that lasted about 26 minutes in real time.

Willie Jordan had 14 carries for 132 yards and four touchdowns, and reserve running backs Treyvon Willis, Derrick Wade and Colbi McDaniels combined for 121 yards.

“I was really proud of the young guys,” Kinsler said. “When they got a chance to get in there in the second half, we didn’t take a step backward.”

Northside’s defense held the Patriots to 94 yards on 34 plays. The Patriots had 12 runs of no gain or lost yardage in the first half.

“Coach (Chris) Reeves and his staff did a really good job of making sure our guys were ready to play,” Kinsler said of his defensive coordinator. “I think the kids executed his game plan.”

The Patriots lost firepower early when starting quarterback Levi Dunn suffered a collarbone-related injury after a 51-yard run on their third play from scrimmage.

Northside went 75 yards on eight plays on its first possession, Jordan going the final 55 for the score. The Eagles followed the Patriots’ three-and-out with a 7-play, 70-yard drive, Jordan carrying the final five for 46 yards and the score.

Same thing: Three plays and punt, Northside covered 61 yards on seven plays, Jordan doing much of the work and scoring.

Then the Eagles turned a fumble recovery by Yacht Jones into a quick touchdown by TJ Anderson for a 28-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first half.

A four-play, 38-yard drive ended up with Jordan scoring, and then a fumble caused by Tyler Williams went right to Young on Northside-Columbus’ first play after the touchdown, and he scored.

That made it 42-0 with a full four minutes left in the half. Northside recovered another fumble five plays later, but slow drove to the 11 and let the clock run out.

McDaniels added a touchdown late in the fourth.

“It was a good week of practice,” Young said. “We couldn’t get too happy we won, because we had a playoff game.

“We just came out to make a statement to the state.”

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