Northside falls to North Pitt in non-conference finale

Published 12:22 am Saturday, October 1, 2016

PINETOWN — North Pitt’s Geromy Wright ran for back-to-back touchdowns to open the second half to spoil Northside’s homecoming, 33-14. He scampered in from 5 yards out and then capitalized on a Northside fumble with a 53-yard touchdown run.

North Pitt possessed a marginal 7-6 lead at halftime before Wright produced a 20-6 advantage just over five minutes into the third quarter. His efforts helped lead North Pitt to its first win of the season, and first win under new head coach Brent Wooten.

“I think it means more to the seniors,” Wooten said. “We’ve been trying hard to get across the hump. We haven’t played a full football game yet this year. I knew we were capable, at some point, of putting it together.”

Northside coach Keith Boyd added, “It hurt. Our goal was to come out, make a stop and then put one in to take the lead. When it came down to it, defensively, they beat us up front. They were doing nothing but handing it off and gashing us up the middle.”

Northside drew first blood early in the second quarter. It missed out on points thanks to a field-goal attempt that fell short on its first drive, but the defense came up strong by forcing a turnover on downs at its own 35-yard line.

Running back James Barrow led the home side down the field before capping off the scoring drive with a 2-yard touchdown.

North Pitt had a sizeable return on the ensuing kickoff negated by a penalty, but was able to drive down the field anyways. Quarterback Nytrell Chapman took off for a 22-yard gain to set his group up at Northside’s 11-yard line. He connected with tight end Brian Rakim Smith on an 8-yard score. The extra point put North Pitt on top, 7-6.

North Pitt’s explosive start in the second half turned a one-point edge into a two-possession lead. Northside didn’t shut down, though. Barrow, who had to be helped off the field in the second quarter, took consecutive carries to set up the hosting Panthers in the red zone.

“He’s our vocal leader. He, along with four or five of the other ones, they say what needs to be said,” Boyd said of Barrow’s leadership. “All of them tried hard.”

Boyd opened up the playbook a bit in an attempt to fan that offensive spark. Backup quarterback Matthew Marslender pitched the ball to starter Jackson Midgette, but he was brought down behind the line of scrimmage.

Matthew Marslender runs the ball against North Pitt. Marslender, who sees most of his action on defense, gave North Pitt a different look by taking a few snaps at quarterback.

Matthew Marslender runs the ball against North Pitt. Marslender, who sees most of his action on defense, gave North Pitt a different look by taking a few snaps at quarterback.

Midgette, facing fourth-and-8 from North Pitt’s 15-yard line, made up for the lost yardage by finding a falling Dawson Jackson in the end zone. The 15-yard touchdown and two-point conversion by Barrow put Northside within six, 20-14, with 3:50 to play in the third.

Chapman took the wind out of Northside’s sails shortly after. He took just two plays — a 33-yard run and another 36-yard dash into the end zone — to answer back for the visitors.

Penalties and turnovers cost the hosting Panthers as they tried to mount a comeback. They lost three fumbles in the second half. Midgette had a long run for a fourth-down conversion early in the fourth, but it was called back due to holding.

“We gave away that touchdown in the first half early because we only had 10 men on the field,” Boyd said of the team’s missteps. “We had double the penalties and triple the turnovers. We’re lucky we didn’t lose by more than that. We just didn’t play very well in the second half.”

Chapman put the game away with a 12-yard touchdown connection with Quantrevius Blango.

Northside, after starting the season 4-0, has lost its last two games. The Panthers open 1-A Coastal Plains competition next week at home against Southside.

“You don’t want that to happen, but when you play teams like the two teams we just played, my gosh. We’re a pretty good 1-A football team, but when you lineup against teams that are bigger, faster and stronger than you are, and your kids are out there trying as hard as they possibly can, that’s all you can ask.”