DALTON — Playing on just three days rest, North Murray’s beleaguered Mountaineers overcame Region 6-AAA rival Coahulla Creek 28-14 Tuesday night.
The Neers lost a physical slugfest to region newcomer Rockmart at home Friday and had to turn around and take on Coahulla with some key players banged up. It’s part of life in 2020. The game with Coahulla had been rescheduled when the season was pushed back two weeks due to COVID-19. The Neers will play again Saturday at Southeast Whitfield.
“It was just a sloppy game,” said North Murray coach Preston Poag. “We had some guys hurt. Cade Petty got hurt early (possible concussion). We didn’t play well. We came out with no emotion. We were flat. We scored those three touchdowns quick then, sort of, didn’t do a whole lot. They kept the ball on us a lot and ran the clock a bunch, so they had a good game plan against us.”
Despite the relatively close score, the Mountaineers were in control most of the game and allowed just one offensive touchdown, which came late in the third quarter. The offense was mostly effective all night, though it stalled for a while after halftime. Sophomore quarterback Seth Griffin had a huge game, throwing for 218 yards and four touchdowns. D’Ante Tidwell continued putting up big numbers as well, rushing for 65 yards and 185 receiving yards.
The defense showed how far it has come in a short time. North Murray sophomore Carson Gibson and senior Spencer Chasteen caused chaos all night for the Colts’ offense. Chasteen made a super athletic play early on, picking off a pass that led to an eventual Neer touchdown.
“Quick turnaround games like this after a tough game against Rockmart, it’s good to get out with a win,” Poag said.
Scoring recap: The Mountaineers received the opening kickoff and after a kick-catch interference call, got the ball in plus territory at the Coahulla 45-yard line. The Mountaineers marched four plays to the endzone, capped by an 8-yard run by quarterback Seth Griffin. Kicker Owen Hannah made the point after and it was 7-0 in short order.
North Murray’s Spencer Chasteen picked off a Coahulla pass on the ensuing drive and the Neers again had plus field position at the Colts’ 46-yard-line. Griffin found Cade Petty on the first play from scrimmage for a 46-yard touchdown pass. Hannah’s PAT was true and the Neers led 14-0 with 6:20 to go in the first.
On the following North Murray drive, Griffin found his favorite target, running back D’Ante Tidwell, for a 64-yard touchdown pass and it was 21-0 following Hannah’s extra point. The blowout appeared to be inevitable, but Coahulla’s small but scrappy defense held the Neers off the board until late in the game.
Coahulla Creek’s Tyson King picked off a Griffin pass in the second quarter and raced 46 yards for a touchdown with 9:10 to go in the half, cutting the deficit to 21-7 after the PAT. Coahulla jumped on the scoreboard again with 2:12 left in the third on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kace Kinneman to Justin Baker and the Colts made a game of it, 21-14, following the extra point.
North Murray rounded out the scoring, though, on an 88-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Tidwell with 5:32 to go in the game.
The good: The offense gets a lot of recognition, but the Neer defense played exceptionally well against the Colts, who despite having a poor record, have some athletes on offense. The Mountaineers gave up only one offensive touchdown.
The bad: The offensive line struggled to create a pocket for Griffin. Griffin was on the run all night and most of his passes were thrown while scrambling.
Play of the game: Leading Coahulla 21-14 with about six minutes to go in the game, the Mountaineers forced the Colts to turn the ball over on downs deep in North Murray territory.
What’s next: The Mountaineers travel to non-region rival Southeast Whitfield Friday.