Harris County and Northside engaged in a game that resembled a tennis match in the first half. Fans were left with neck pain after watching the two offenses run up and down the field. Harris County finally took charge in the fourth quarter and put the Patriots away, winning 42-21 at Kinnett Stadium.
The win moves the Tigers to 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in Region 1-AAAAA play, and is the team's sixth consecutive win. Northside drops to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in the region.
"Give Northside credit. They came out ready to play and we didn't," said Harris County coach Tommy Parks. "I have a lot of respect for those kids and for coach (Morgan) Ingram. They came out prepared and they played hard the entire game. We were coming off an emotional win last week and it took us a while to get going, but we finally did what we needed to do in the second half."
Harris County turned the ball over on its first possession and, after forcing a punt got on the board on its next opportunity. Using a 36-yard scamper by Esaias Chapman to start the drive, the Tigers started at their own 23 and covered 77 yards in seven plays to take the early lead. Chapman ran in from four yards out and Isaac Grimes booted the point-after for a 7-0 lead with 7:33 left in the first.
The visitors wasted no time in adding to the lead. A short "pooch" kick was fielded by Northside's Derrick Brownridge around his own 25. A jarring tackle separated the ball and Harris County recovered. Chapman ran 28 yards on the first play after the turnover to extend the lead. Grimes' kick made it 14-0 just 19 seconds after the first score.
Northside showed some character, however, responding to the quick flurry with a drive that saw them reach the Tiger 11 before a costly penalty and a missed field goal left them empty. The drive ate almost six minutes off the clock.
Just two plays later, the Patriots had the ball back. A fumble by Harris County that Carya Scott fell on for Northside put them in business at the Tiger 29. Six plays later Jonathan Karastury found Drew Wells in a seam for a 19-yard score. Nathan Robertson's point-after kick bounced off the crossbar and through to cut the margin in half at 14-7 with 10:31 to play in the half.
Harris County answered again, this time taking 10 plays to cover 77 yards. Quarterback TaQuon Marshall found Jacob Rovig all alone in the secondary for a 39-yard touchdown. The Grimes kick made it 21-7 with 7:40 left in the half.
Northside was not finished, however, and took the ensuing possession in for a score. The drive covered 56 yards and was finished off by a one-yard keeper by Karastury. The Robertson kick drew the Patriots within seven at 21-14 with 3:35 left in the quarter.
The Tigers again responded and put more points on the board before halftime. Starting at its own 28, Harris County took 11 plays and all but 22 seconds of the remaining time in the half to extend the lead. Marshall called his own number and weaved his way in from 18 yards out to get the touchdown. The Grimes kick made it 28-14 at that point. A blocked field goal as time expired kept Northside from an answer before the half.
Northside got the only score of the third quarter after eating a lot of the time off the clock with its two drives. The first drive reached the Tiger 27 before stalling and ending on a fourth-down sack, but the second was productive for the Patriots.
The Patriots got a huge play to keep its drive alive. Northside punter Nicki Haynes fielded a poor snap in his own end zone and seemed doomed to take a safety. He put on a Houdini act, however, and broke loose for a 76-yard run that gave the Patriots a first down at the Tiger 13. Five plays later Karastury scored on his second one-yard keeper to pull his team within a touchdown at 28-21.
"We talked about fighting hard and not giving up and we got a great effort tonight. We just made too many mistakes," said Ingram, the Patriot coach.
As it had each time before, Harris County responded. The Tigers got a 33-yard kick return from Tae Crowder and started from their own 48. A fourth-down conversion kept the drive alive and Marshall had another nice jaunt for the score from 19 yards out. The score made it 35-21 with 11:07 left in the game.
The Tigers nailed the door shut five minutes later. After holding Northside on downs at the Patriot 35, Chapman and Keith Jenkins did the work to cover the distance. Jenkins got the score from a yard out and with the kick, the Tigers led 42-21 with 6:04 left and would hold that lead the rest of the way. Chapman would finish the night with 226 yards rushing for Harris County.
Harris County travels for the fifth consecutive week next week, visiting Lee County, while Northside is on the road at Bainbridge.