From Staff Reports
ACCIDENT — Jake Vernon scored a touchdown from four yards out with 1:23 left in the game and Justin Derato’s kick provided the winning margin as the Northern Huskies opened the season with a 7-6 win over Smithsburg Friday night at Northern.
Trevon Jones and Vernon picked up the slack carrying the ball in the absence of an injured Aaron Rodeheaver, with Jones rushing for 126 yards on 12 carries and Vernon picking up 63 yards on 10 carries.
The Northern defense was outstanding, holding on several fronts, no more so than at the end of the first half when the Huskies stopped the Leopards on a fourth-and-goal at the Northern three, allowing Northern to take a knee to conclude a scoreless first half.
Linebacker Meshach Metz led the Huskies with 14 tackles, while linebacker Vernon had seven tackles and a fumble recovery. End Ryan Miller had 2.5 sacks, while tackle Brooks Carr had six tackles and a half sack.
Smithsburg broke the ice, however, in the third quarter when Dalton Condo, who led the Leopards with 72 yards rushing on 16 carries, scored on a 10-yard run at 9:10 of the period. The kick for conversion, though, failed and Smithsburg led 6-0.
In the fourth quarter Jones had a gainer of 62 yards, and while the Huskies did not score on the drive the big gainer gave them field position for the eventual game-winning drive as Northern stopped the Leopards on their next possession, then benefitted from a short punt.
“We stayed with our game plan at that point,” said Northern head coach Phil Carr. “We moved the ball tonight. The turnovers (three lost fumbles and an interception) hurt us but we picked up yards between the 20s all night.”
The Huskies went to Vernon and Jones, who picked up methodical gains as Northern moved the ball downfield. The big play, however, came when quarterback Metz hit split end Logan Fratz for 12 yards and a first down at the Smithsburg 25 with just over 2:00 to go. Four plays later, Vernon went over from four yards out and Derato’s kick made it 7-6.
“We just marched down there and scored,” said Carr. “We knew after the completed pass for the first down we had two minutes and two timeouts and didn’t rush ourselves.
“I can’t say enough about everybody’s effort tonight. We played without our best running back Rodeheaver, who has a knee problem, and we don’t know how bad it is yet. But I also have to credit our coaches. Coach Frank Ewing suffered a heart attack this week and was in pretty bad shape, so everybody had to change up a bit on their roles. It was nice to win this one. Coach Ewing was released from the hospital and was able to come to the game and see the win, and he’s all ready to go on Monday. He received clearance today to start coaching again. He’s excited; we’re all excited.
“It’s the first time we’ve beaten Smithsburg since 1993 or ’94 when we got them in the playoffs. We’ve opened with them quite a bit since, and the last seven or eight years have not been good for us.”
Northern will play Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Tucker County.
Mountain Ridge 6
SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — Andrew King threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to lead Jefferson to a 28-6 victory over Mountain Ridge at Jefferson on Friday.
King totalled 131 yards through the air and was picked off twice.
After a scoreless first quarter, King commenced a 21-point second period for Jefferson with an 11-yard pass to Christian Johnson 53 seconds in. Hunter Colbert kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. Anthony Pierson scampered in from 16 yards away 1:14 later. Colbert’s PAT made it 14-0. With 2:54 left in the half, King hooked up with Martinez Grant from five yards away to give the Cougars a 21-0 advantage at halftime.
Jefferson opened up the second half with a 3:35 touchdown drive capped off by a King quarterback sneak.
The Miners score came on a fake punt, a 46-yard run by Rashawn Johnson with 3:36 remaining in the third to make it 28-6.
Johnson reeled off 124 yards on 19 attempts. Michael Strietbeck completed 6 of 15 for 87 yards and an interception. Ian McCormick had 15 tackles and Tim Buskirk racked up 14 for the Miners.
Christian Johnson caught five passes for 78 yards for the Cougars.
Mountain Ridge (0-1) travels to Hedgesville and Jefferson (2-0) plays at Hampshire on Friday.