By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
It is one of the most overlooked plays in football, but it often is a game changer. And it doesn’t really even have a name, other than just being a “four-point play.” Funny thing is that when it happens, no one cheers for it and hardly even notices it.
You can look at all the statistics you want to try to summarize what happens in a game, but it is these four-point plays that truly do make the difference.
Friday night at Jerry Burton Stadium in a 21-20 win, Northwood’s Fabien Sanders made a four-point play against Evangel that might otherwise be lost if it weren’t for one detail – it very well may have won the Falcons the game.
It was a great play that ended up defining a great game.
Late in the third quarter, Evangel’s Brayden Curry got behind the Northwood secondary and caught a long pass from quarterback Peyton Fulghum. Curry was headed to the end zone for what would be a 64-yard score and put the Eagles ahead.
But Curry never got there.
Sanders, who isn’t even a regular cornerback for the Falcons, never gave up on the play and caught Curry from behind at the Northwood 5. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but a short gain, an incomplete pass and a tackle for loss by linebacker Parker Stroope forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“(Sanders) is such a good athlete that we needed to get him on the field,” Northwood coach Austin Brown said. “We talk about it all the time that you never know when that one play or that one yard is going to matter. Chasing that guy down obviously won the game for us.”
“After those three plays, I didn’t think about going for (a touchdown),” Evangel coach Denny Duron said. “We weren’t executing like we should and they got after us.”
A touchdown would have given the Eagles a three-point lead. Instead, the 22-yard field goal by Kaegan Kent only cut the Northwood lead to one. Neither team scored after that.
Sanders’ “four-point play” might very well have been the difference in winning and losing for Northwood (4-2 overall, 2-1 in District 1-4A). But it wasn’t the only big defensive play by the Falcons in this game.
It certainly didn’t look like four points was going to matter with the way the game started. Evangel came out like its collective hair was on fire, getting a 37-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Robinson, an 81-yard pass to Parker Fulghum and a 37-yard Kent field goal to build a 17-0 lead 15 minutes into the game.
After figuring out that the game had already started, Northwood showed up in a big way – a 77-yard pass from Mason Welch to Desmond Harris and then a safety on the next Evangel possession on a snap out of the end zone on a 2nd-and-29 play.
When the Falcons put together a late drive before halftime that resulted in a 4-yard TD pass on a fade route to Mar’Jayvious Moss, it set the stage for an intense second half.
The Falcons took the lead with 3:47 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Quintavion White and the teams traded self-destructive drives to keep the scoreboard stagnant.
It looked like Evangel (3-3, 2-1) might get one of the all-time breaks when a high punt snap by the Falcons set the Eagles up at the Northwood 45 with 4:26 to play. Needing only about 20 yards to get into a potential game-winning field goal, the Eagles got an 8-yard completion on first down, but the next two plays went nowhere and it came down to a fourth-and-three.
Northwood defenders Christian Blackmon and Stroope knocked the ball away to prevent a first down pass completion and the Falcons were able to run out the clock.
“That’s why we got those dudes on defense,” Brown said. “You’ve got to trust them to get the job done.”
“We knew they were going to bring their A-game,” Moss said. “And we were going to bring ours.”
“We didn’t lose this game,” Duron said. “They (the Falcons) won it.”
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Northwood 21, Evangel 20
Score by quarters
Evangel | 7 | 10 | 0 | 3 | – 20
Northwood | 0 | 15 | 6 | 0 | – 21
E – Brayden Curry 37 pass from Peyton Fulghum (Kaegan Kent kick)
E – Parker Fulghum 81 pass from Peyton Fulghum (Kent kick)
E – Kent 37 FG
N – Desmond Harris 77 pass from Mason Welch (Alexander Williams kick)
N – Safety, snap out of the end zone
N – Mar’Javious Moss 4 pass from Welch (pass failed)
N – Quintavion White 1 run (kick failed)
E – Kent 22 FG
Evangel (22-24), Damari Drake 9-20, Garrett Burns 6-10, Dashawn Johnson 3-1, Tyreek Robinson 1-minus-1, Peyton Fulghum 2-minus-2, Team 1-minus-6.
Northwood (25-88), Quintavion White 15-68, Welch 6-35, Harris 2-18, Elijah Crawford 1-minus-7, Team 1-minus-26.
Evangel (15-28-1-238) – Peyton Fulghum 15-28-1, 238 yards.
Northwood (16-35-2-247) – Welch 16-35-2, 247 yards.
Evangel – Parker Fulghum 7-134, Curry 3-71, Robinson 3-49, Judah Whorton 2-14.
Northwood – Marc Denison 6-49, Harris 4-114, White 2-40, Moss 2-16, Hutson Hearron 1-10.