By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
He was 80 yards away, but when Huntington running back John Solomon caught a slip screen late in the fourth quarter in a tie game, he saw only one thing.
“Glory,” he said.
However, glory took a while as Solomon broke through the first wave of Northwood defenders, then had to weave his way through another set of Falcons to squeeze into the end zone along the sideline with 1:44 remaining.
No one seemed to care that it wasn’t exactly a sprint, especially after the Raiders tacked on a two-point conversion to win 28-20 Thursday night at Jerry Burton Stadium.
“They (the Falcons) have such good pass rushers and one of the adjustments we made was to let them come upfield and try to get underneath them with those screens,” said a very-happy-to-say-the-least Huntington coach Stephen Dennis. “The kids responded to the energy. At least, I hope they did.”
“They out-executed us on some screen plays, which are hard to defend against them,” said Northwood coach Austin Brown. “We were ready for it, but they hit us for some big plays on that.”
In a game that didn’t seem to have much of a pace well after halftime – Northwood led 14-6 after three quarters – that certainly changed and made this game everything that was expected between two of the favorites in District 1-4A.
On the third play of the fourth quarter, Huntington quarterback Kam Evans found Trey Carter on another quick hitter in the left flat, but one that turned into a 49-yard completion to the Northwood 9. That seemed to be the spark that a rather lifeless Huntington offense needed as Solomon scored on the next play before Evans hit Kenton Brossett for a two-point conversion to make it 14-14.
Suddenly, it was game on.
Northwood went on an impressive 87-yard drive, mostly behind the running of Quintavion White, to go ahead 20-14 within 6:45 left. White had runs of 24, 13 and then another from 13 yards out for the score. A 26-yard pass from Mason Welch to Marc Denison picked up a big third-and-10 along the way.
But the Raiders came right back. Jamarion Mims had a 22-yard run as the Raiders went for it on fourth down from their own 23. Carter took a touch pass in the backfield from Evans and raced around the end for a 31-yard score with 4:13 to go.
However, Huntington’s extra point was also missed, so it was still 20-20.
In a game that had turned offensive, it was a defensive play that made the difference. Welch was sacked on third-and-8 and the Falcons had no choice but to punt it back to Huntington.
It looked like Northwood might make the big defensive play when Evans tried to avoid a sack and tossed the ball sideways in the direction of a receiver. The ball was ruled a fumble and there was a Falcon defender in the area, but it was recovered by the Raiders for a minor-by-comparison 10-yard loss.
Evans, who had been in pain from a shoulder injury all week (and had to come out for a play in the third quarter after a sack), wasn’t able to throw the ball deep with any consistency. So the Raider staff made sure he didn’t have to. Evans got the ball to Solomon on the quick pass and the senior took it the rest of the way for the winning score.
“We just made a few more plays than they did in the second half,” said Dennis. “When you have two good clubs like this, that’s what it usually comes down to.”
Consider this: Evans was 8 of 23 for 88 yards in the first three quarters, including a 1 for 9 stretch. But in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and no real ability to throw deep, he was 6 of 6 for 200 yards.
Tough night for Brown? Yeah, maybe. But the Falcons coach still had a smile on his face when it was over. Earlier in the day his wife gave birth to their third child (and first son).
Braxton Brown missed a good one.
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Huntington 28, Northwood 20
Score by quarters
Huntington | 0 | 6 | 0 | 22 | – 28
Northwood | 7 | 7 | 0 | 6 | – 20
NW – Quintavion White 1 run (Willie Martinez kick)
Hunt – Jarvis Davis 32 pass from Kam Evans (run failed)
NW – White 4 run (Martinez kick)
Hunt – John Solomon 9 run (Brossett pass from Evans)
NW – White 13 run (kick failed)
Hunt – Tre Carter 31 pass from Evans (pass failed)
Hunt – Solomon 80 pass from Evans (Brossett pass from Evans)
Rushing – Hunt (20-84), Jamarion Mims 6-59, Solomon 5-30, Evans 5-3, Jamarion Washington 1-3, Carter 1-1, Jabaria Scott 1-minus-2, Team 1-minus-10. NW (43-158), White 31-113, Fabien Sanders 4-24, Marc Denison 2-14, Mason Welch 6-7.
Passing – Hunt (15-30-1-294), Evans 14-29-1, 288 yards, Lorenzo White 1-1-0, 6 yards. NW (19-30-0-217), Welch 19-30-0, 217 yards.
Receiving – Hunt – Jarvis Davis 7-93, Carter 4-93, Kaleb Tucker 2-14, Solomon 1-80, Kamar Lewis 1-14. NW, Denison 5-95, Desmond Harris 5-39. White 2-9, Hunter Hearron 2-8, Jalil Wainwright 2-30, Mar’Javious Moss 1-10, Elijah Crawford 1-8, Sanders 1-18