It was a tale of two halves in the Highway 38 rivalry game between North Douglas and Elkton, particularly for the Warriors.
On Fri., Oct. 4 in Elkton, North Douglas raced out to a 42-14 halftime lead, only to be held in check in a defensive second half that saw only one more touchdown by the Elks, ending in a final score of 42-20.
Despite a relatively dominant showing on the scoreboard, North Douglas head coach JJ Mast focused on a sloppy, plodding second half when talking about his team’s performance.
“We need to be more disciplined,” Mast said after the game.
“We gotta be dependable play after play instead of just picking one out of every four plays or we’ll get in trouble. We saw it last week. We played with Lowell punch for punch for a quarter and then the mistakes start to take over a little bit. And I wouldn’t even call them mistakes, just a lack of focus.”
The Warriors were helped by their first-half performance when their running game scored four touchdowns along with two more through the air. This, to Coach Mast, was part of the problem when it came to his team’s lackluster second-half performance.
“Things got going early and I think that’s part of the problem. When you get up, sometimes high school kids kind of take their foot off the gas and have a hard time getting back in.”
The high point in the game came late - very late - in the first half. With under a minute to go, the Warriors held a 28-0 advantage.
At the 55 second mark of the second quarter, Elkton quarterback Cooper Peters connected with wide receiver Trystn Woody for a long touchdown pass, making it 28-6. 15 seconds later on their next possession, North Douglas got a long touchdown pass of their own to wide receiver Jake Gerrard, converting on their two-point conversion attempt to make it 36-6.
In an exhibition of eight-man football unpredictability, the two teams were still not done. Elkton fumbled the ensuing kickoff - one of three such turnovers for the Elks - and North Douglas scored another touchdown on their second play, a double reverse from 40 yards out that made it 42-6 with 17 seconds left in the half.
The Warriors pushed the following kickoff out of bounds, giving Elkton positive field position with little time remaining. In a hail mary attempt, Peters hit running back Micah Cox for a touchdown to pull the Elks within 42-14 at halftime, despite only running 14 plays on offense. In total, 28 points were scored in the final minute of the first half.
Cooper Peters connected with Woody for another touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the only scoring play for either team in the second half.
Echoing the sentiments of his North Douglas counterpart, Elkton head coach Jeremy Lockhart sees similar areas of improvement for his own team.
“It just seems like we need to step up and play a whole game instead of just the second half. It seems like we like to get hit in the mouth then go, ‘oh wait, we are at a football game,’ so that’s frustrating,” Lockhart said after the game.
Warriors quarterback Austin Frieze finished the game 7-14 for 97 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 13 carries for 140 yards and one touchdown on the ground. North Douglas also got contributions from running back Wyatt McDaniel (13 carries for 117 yards and two scores) and linebacker Tyler Kallinger who led the team’s defensive effort.
The Elks were led by receivers Trystn Woody (two receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns) and Micah Cox (two receptions for 85 yards and one score).
North Douglas (2-3, 1-1) faces Oakridge at home this week while the Elks (2-2, 0-2) head to Lowell for a tough matchup against the league favorite. Both teams will be on a short week, playing Thurs., Oct. 10.