Firebirds fall to Northern Nash in OT | The Enterprise
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SOUTHERN NASH FOOTBALL

Firebirds fall to Northern Nash in OT

Posted on October 23, 2021

SportsSchool Sports
Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell (7) looks to cut past a defender while Jackson Vick (26) looks on during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell (7) looks to cut past a defender while Jackson Vick (26) looks on during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Southern Nash's Sammy Gandy fights through contact during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Sammy Gandy fights through contact during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Southern Nash's Dustin Hall (60) looks to pressure Northern Nash quarterback Deon Battle.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Dustin Hall (60) looks to pressure Northern Nash quarterback Deon Battle.

Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell (7) looks to cut past a defender while Jackson Vick (26) looks on during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell (7) looks to cut past a defender while Jackson Vick (26) looks on during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Southern Nash's Sammy Gandy fights through contact during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Sammy Gandy fights through contact during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

Southern Nash's Sammy Gandy fights through contact during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.
Southern Nash's Dustin Hall (60) looks to pressure Northern Nash quarterback Deon Battle.
Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell (7) looks to cut past a defender while Jackson Vick (26) looks on during Friday night's 29-28 overtime loss to Northern Nash.

aschnittker@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7807 | Twitter: @aschnitt53

Turnovers, momentum swings, big plays on both sides of the ball, a capacity crowd — Friday night’s varsity football rivalry game between host Southern Nash and Northern Nash had it all.

Despite never leading in regulation, Northern Nash won 29-28 in overtime to clinch a share of the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference championship.

The Firebirds (7-1, 4-1 Big East) fell to the Knights (8-1, 5-0) despite racking up 381 yards of offense, mainly due to losing four fumbles, including two in goal-to-go situations in the second quarter. Southern Nash head coach Brian Batchelor, however, said the loss came down to two decisions he made.

“I thought our kids played their hearts out, and I thought their head coach let them down,” Batchelor said. “We should have gone for it at the end of regulation, and we should have gone for two in overtime. That’s pretty much it. I thought our kids played really, really hard and deserved to win, and I let them down.”

In overtime, the Firebirds took the ball first and took a 27-21 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from Jackson Vick before kicking the extra point to make it a 7-point game.

After facing fourth and 2 on its own possession, Northern Nash converted on a two-yard run from R.J. Loring before electing to go for two and the win, which it also got thanks to another run from Loring.

“First thing in my head is I started off slow, so I knew I had to make up for it,” Loring said. “Second thing, I knew that we’ve got one of the best lines that we could possibly have. I feel completely safe behind this line. I knew that they would block their blocks and I got in the end zone. I had it in my mind that no one was going to stop me from scoring. When I’m in front of that end zone, that close, there’s no stopping me.”

That overtime followed a wild third quarter that saw the two teams combine for 21 points. Southern Nash entered the final frame up 14-7, but the Knights had possession off a Firebirds fumble to end the third quarter. Northern Nash drove down the field and scored on a 35-yard run from quarterback Deon Battle, in which he broke numerous tackles, to tie the game.

“I told them that they pulled out something that they didn’t even know that they had in themselves,” said Northern Nash head coach Andrew Farriss. “Sometimes I don’t know. I didn’t know how they were going to answer. We got down early, and we weren’t playing well. They just kept battling. That’s what we told them: just keep battling. We got behind in the D.H. Conley game and we battled back. I knew we could, but this is a heck of a football team we’re playing against, and for our guys to just continue to fight back. I couldn’t be prouder of them. Just no quit. That’s the biggest thing I can say about them. They don’t ever quit, and I’m so proud of them for that.”

Southern Nash responded by marching down the field and retaking the lead with 6:09 to play on a 10-yard run from Vick, who had three rushing scores on the night.

“Our kids played their hearts out,” Batchelor said. “They’re winners; they’re fighters.”

Northern Nash again had an answer, however, tying the game on a 1-yard run from Battle with 3:08 to play, with that drive largely aided by a 63-yard pass from Battle to D’Marius Clark. Battle hit two big throws on the night for the Knights, as he also had a 64-yard touchdown pass to Clark in the second quarter to put Northern Nash on the board.

“That dude is a just an absolute battler,” Farriss said. “He just never quits. He’s so tough. Right when we needed him, he made some runs, he hit some passes and it was just right on the money. He was amazing, and he really, really stepped up big for us tonight. He’s our leader.”

Southern Nash got the ball back with three minutes left and drove down to the Northern Nash 4 before electing to kick a 20-yard field goal on fourth and 1. Jonathan Battle’s kick was blocked by the Knights’ Isaiah Strickland, eventually sending the game to overtime.

“We’ve actually worked on a block for that,” Farriss said. “It’s something we can’t really do full, full speed in practice. So we had a timeout and we got it ready. We didn’t execute it the way it’s supposed to be executed. Somebody different than we thought would get the block got it, we got push, he got his hand up and made a heck of a play for us.”

Southern Nash started the game strong with a 14-play drive to take the lead late in the first quarter, largely thanks to the rushing prowess of Sammy Gandy, who finished the game with a whopping 210 yards, and Tralon Mitchell, who finished with 89.

The Firebirds could have taken a bigger lead than 14-7 into halftime as they drove inside the Knights’ 10-yard line and lost fumbles twice in the second quarter, leaving the door open.

“Anytime you’re playing a good team and you turn the ball over that many times, it’s not going to be good,” Batchelor said. “Anytime you play anybody and turn it over that many times, it’s not good. But like I said, all that doesn’t matter. We’ve got the ball on the 4-yard line with 15 seconds left, with the three best running backs in the state. And I kicked it instead of giving it to them. That one’s on me.”

Those in attendance Friday night got to see a close game as well as a packed house and a rocking atmosphere, which had been a long time coming after the way COVID-19 altered last season.

“It was really nice to let our kids enjoy that and let our community enjoy it for sure, because it’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that,” Batchelor said.

Next week, Southern Nash will close its season at home against Franklinton, while Northern Nash will host Rocky Mount.

Northern Nash 29

Southern Nash 28

                     NN  SN

First Downs 10 24

Yards rushing 152 367

Yards passing 135 14

Passes-Comp.-Int. 10-7-0 3-1-0

Punts-Average 4-30 1-39

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 6-4

Penalties-Yards 9-60 7-80

Score by quarters:

Visitor 0 7 0 14 8

Home 7 7 0 7 7

Scoring Summary:

SN — Sammy Gandy 10 run (Jonathan Daniels kick), 3:30, 1st

SN — Jackson Vick 1 run (Jonathan Daniels kick), 7:42, 2nd

NN — D’Marius Clark 64 pass from Deon Battle (Bryson Jenkins kick), 6:31, 2nd

NN — Deon Battle 35 run (Bryson Jenkins kick), 9:29, 4th

SN — Jackson Vick 10 run (Jonathan Daniels kick), 6:09, 4th

NN — Deon Battle 1 run (Bryson Jenkins kick), 3:08, 4th

SN — Jackson Vick 1 run (Jonathan Daniels kick), OT

NN — RJ Loring 2 run (Loring run), OT

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Northern Nash: Keno Jones 11-83; Deon Battle 12-33; RJ Loring 9-23; Dashawn Richardson 3-12. Southern Nash: Sammy Gandy 30-210-2TD; Tralon Mitchel 14-89; Jackson Vick 16-68-3 TDs.

PASSING — Northern Nash: Deon Battle 10-7-0 135 yards, TD. Southern Nash: Brock Alford 3-1-0, 14 yards.

RECEIVING — Northern Nash: John Tolleson 1-14.

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