Northside senior running back Joshua Bogan skipped along the sideline, a gleaming smile painted across his face, and lept into his head coach’s arms. Another Patriots player, likely a senior, grabbed the nearest assistant coach and burst into tears. Others sprinted toward the Northside student section, painted head-to-toe in black. One student held up a wooden owl, sending the section into a frenzy.
For one night, the Northside Patriots could forget about a previously-winless 2019 season. They could ignore the fact that their season ended Friday night with no playoff berth and a lone region win. They could especially forget about the 36-3 trouncing at the hand of rival Columbus that they endured last season.
Northside’s record will only have one mark in the win column, but it’s a win the Patriots will surely savor. Their 38-29 win over Columbus marks the end of a difficult season, but what better way to close it out than by beating an arch rival in a game that their quarterback dubbed the “Iron Bowl of Columbus, Georgia”?
“This means everything,” Northside senior quarterback Chandler Blanton said. “It’s like winning the lottery. Like I said, this is the ‘Iron Bowl,’ and we just won it.”
This wasn’t the high-scoring, back-and-forth affair like in the Patriots’ loss to Harris County earlier this season. But it didn’t need to be.
Whereas the Blue Devils scored quickly, the Patriots took their time. Each drive bled numerous minutes off the clock, which resulted in limited opportunities for the dangerous Blue Devils running back Tre Peterson (who, to his credit, finished with 200 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns).
Blanton, playing in his final game for the Patriots, seldom needed to attempt a pass, as the Blue Devils struggled to slow down the rushing attack of himself and running backs Triston Wynn and Bogan.
The trio combined to run for 325 yards. Blanton ran for the game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter, Bogan ran for two scores and Wynn ran for one.
“Today, we were in the locker room, everybody was hype about this game,” Bogan said. “We just gon’ give it all. 100 percent. We came out here and did that. This is the best game we’ve probably played this year. From us putting up a lot of points on Harris County and Americus and all these other good teams, I feel like this was our best offensive and defensive game this year.”
Bet between brothers
Northside senior tackle Destin Brittingham received a text from his brother before the game.
“Last chance to score a TD,” the message read. “Bet you won’t do it.”
Brittingham, a guard for the Patriots and a blocker on the Northside field goal team, lined up in formation. A routine field goal from inside the 20-yard line. Nothing special. Well, Columbus blocked it.
Players from both teams sprinted for the loose ball, trying (and failing) to fall on it. Somehow, one of the four Columbus players around the ball failed to recover it. Brittingham did. In the end zone. For a Northside touchdown.
Brittingham called his brother at halftime to break the news. Thanks to a longstanding bet between the two, he’s about be $100 richer.
Not a bad way for he — or the rest of the Northside seniors — to close out his final season.