Northside junior Fred Davis embodied the age-old phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” in the Patriots’ game against Hardaway on Thursday.
Davis got the call to run a halfback pass against Carver on Sept. 15, but the play did not go as planned. Afterward, Davis said he and wide receiver Quincy Brown would go home after practice and work even more on the play, determined to get it right the next time.
That next time came with Northside trailing Hardaway midway through the fourth quarter. And this time, neither Davis nor Brown disappointed.
With the Patriots down 21-17 with a little over six minutes to go in the fourth, Davis took the hand-off from quarterback Chandler Blanton and cut to his right. Then Davis stopped in his tracks, cocked his arm back and fired the ball downfield to Brown.
Brown had to wait on the pass, but it was of little consequence. He caught the ball and ran to the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown, giving Northside (6-1, 3-1) the go-ahead score in what was ultimately a 31-21 region victory.
Though the play worked out, Davis explained afterward that the ball slipped as he let it go. His release ended what felt like an eternity to Brown, who sold the run and successfully snuck behind the Hawks’ secondary.
“I was waiting on Fred to throw it, and I was thinking, ‘Fred, come on,’” said Brown, who also caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Blanton. “He threw it, and I had to come back to it. Once I did, everything went down and I got a touchdown. “
For Northside head coach Morgan Ingram, the playcall was a matter of seizing the moment.
Tension was building on both sides before the pass, as a would-be botched snap on a punt by Hardaway (3-4, 2-2) was waved off due to a Hawks’ false start. Pressure on the ensuing punt courtesy Northside defensive lineman Caleb Johnson forced a short kick, which was handled by Tucker Copeland and returned into Hardaway territory.
With the Hawks reeling after an odd pair of plays, Ingram decided to take a chance.
“We liked the situation,” Ingram said. “We had an emotional turn of events there, so we felt like our momentum was there. It felt like a good time to take a shot. It was a great job by Fred and Quincy to complete the play.”
The touchdown changed the narrative on what had been a ground-and-pound game for both teams. Hardaway running back Marco Lee ran free for a good portion of the game, rushing for 144 yards and two first-half touchdowns. Davis did his part, too, taking 15 carries for 92 yards. Davis added a 1-yard touchdown with 1:15 to go to seal the victory.
Hardaway and Northside have been two of the more consistent teams in Region 1-4A this season. Though both have used fundamentals to carry them to playoff contention, it was ultimately a call out of the ordinary that lifted the Patriots to victory.
“I told my guys all week that I thought these two teams were so evenly matched that the little things would make the difference, and they did tonight,” Ingram said. “I just commend my kids for fighting and fighting and eventually getting the big play to pull ahead.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports