Through three quarters Friday, the Northside Patriots looked to be in trouble in their region opener against Carver. But football is a four-quarter game, and the Patriots made the most of those final minutes.
Northside (4-0, 1-0) overcame a 20-10 deficit entering the final 12 minutes and defeated the Tigers 23-20. The Patriots got their fourth-quarter points through Andres Espinoza and Kade Werner’s field goals and Marcus Davis’ five-yard touchdown run with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Several second-half plays, including Caleb Johnson’s punt block, Fred Davis’ interception and Tucker Copeland’s fumble recovery were also pivotal in Northside’s first win ever over Carver (0-4, 0-1).
“I would have to say this was a full team win,” Northside head coach Morgan Ingram said. “Offense, defense and special teams all did their part. All the mental errors we’ve have week after week, I think we corrected a lot of those. We were able to maintain even though we fell behind early. We were able to come back, get some momentum and able to pull out a big win.”
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For seniors like Johnson, who also caught a 30-yard touchdown from Chandler Blanton in the second quarter, being part of the team who broke the 0-for against Carver won’t soon be forgotten.
“It’s great,” Johnson said. “We’ve never beat them in our school’s history. For our class to do it, it’s something very special. It means a lot to me.”
And for Ingram, it was no surprise that players like Johnson were so important in the victory.
“I’ve been saying it going back to last season that we’ve got a few guys coming back who have a lot of experience,” Ingram said. “Those are the guys who made the plays, and those are the guys who we expect to make the plays.”
Northside’s come-from-behind victory overshadowed what was a strong showing from a Tigers squad still looking for their first win under head coach Calvin Arnold. The Tigers jumped out to an early lead thanks to Jarius Thomas’ 62-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Desmond Whitlock. Whitlock called his own number on a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, giving Carver a 14-0 lead and all the momentum.
Slowly but surely, the Patriots began chipping away.
“Every little play leads up to a bigger play,” Johnson said.
Johnson is part of a senior class that has been vocal about coming through in 2017. The victory over Carver was just the first step, but in Ingram’s eyes, it sets a tone that could soon make those high hopes a reality.
“Carver has great tradition and have had great teams in the past 10 or 12 years,” Ingram said. “To be able to overcome that obstacle mentally is big. I think this will give us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports