That, coupled with some poor early tackling by the Vikings, helped the visiting Chargers take a commanding 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Northwood's Tobias Palmer scored four times in the first half on scoring plays of 57, 27, five and 13 yards.
The leading rusher in the game was the Vikings' John Gallimore, who gained 141 yards on 14 carries, including an 80-yard fourth-quarter burst for a touchdown.
"Giving credit to Northwood, I think they have a fine football team and some good athletes," Viking coach Elwood Baker said, "but we were our own worst enemy. We're not good enough to turn the ball over that many times and win a football game."
The Viking defense stiffened in the last two and a-half quarters, allowing 251 yards from scrimmage overall compared to the 257 yards gained by the home team. But at the beginning, it seemed to want no part of the swift and elusive Palmer.
On the second play from scrimmage, the Charger junior broke some tackles behind the line of scrimmage before racing 59 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.
The Viking response was along the lines Baker envisioned in his game plan.
Starting from its own 23, quarterback Travis Monroe mixed in the run with the pass on a clock-eating 12-play drive. On a second-and-seven call from the Charger 26-yard line, the junior hit Dameon Marsh in stride with a 26-yard touchdown pass. The conversion kick by Aaron Breasseale tied the game at 7-7.
But missed tackles came into play again as Bernard Palmer returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Viking 29. Three plays later, Tobias Palmer was in the end zone for the second time after taking a screen pass from quarterback Juaquin Green 27 yards to pay dirt.
The home team dug an even deeper hole when it coughed up the next kickoff, giving the Chargers a first and goal at its own eight-yard line. Tobias Palmer converted from five yards out this time.
"That made it 21-7 and you sort of have to change your whole game plan," Baker said. "If it played out like I thought it might, we'd be able to keep the football for long drives, five or six yards at a clip -- play ball control and shorten the game."
The downward slide continued when a Monroe pass was intercepted by Jimmy Penny on the next Viking possession. The defense made its first hold, but a series later, the Chargers enjoyed a short field again when a punt return gave them a first down at the Viking 11-yard line.
Moments later, Tobias Palmer scored for the fourth time and Jordan Robinson converted the kick for a 28-7 Northwood advantage.
The visitors would make only four first downs and gain less than 100 yards from scrimmage the rest of the way.
"In the second half, I think they started to do their job a little better," Viking defensive coordinator Jason Furrie said of his unit. "So there are some positives to take away."
The only second-half touchdown by the Chargers came on a fourth-and-12 pass of 26 yards from Green to Desmond Moore on the last play of the third quarter.
But the Viking passing game had been pretty much shelved by the penetrations of outside linebacker Josh Edwards, who sacked Monroe six times in the game. The Vikings also turned the ball over four times after the intermission.
About midway through the fourth period, the Vikings took over on their own 20 after a missed field-goal attempt by Robinson. On the first play, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound Gallimore found a hole on the left side, shed tacklers for about the first 15 yards, and then broke free down the left sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
"I'm sure they did some things differently," Baker said of the Northwood defense, "but I thought we had several breakdowns, especially on the offensive line. On every play we run there's an assignment to be carried out and if we don't carry it out, bad things can happen."
Baker plans to stick with his game plan for next Friday's rivalry game at Pinecrest, but hopes the Vikings will avoid the rash of mistakes that plagued them against the Chargers. Union Pines has not been able to defeat the Patriots since the series was resumed in 2001.
"I told the kids, and I can't tell them enough, this is a long race," Baker says. "If we will hang together on a weekly basis and try to improve, we can become a pretty good football team."
Northwood 21 7 7 0 -- 35
Union Pines 7 0 0 6 -- 13
N -- T. Palmer 59 run (Robinson kick); UP -- Marsh 26 pass from Monroe (Breasseale kick); N -- T. Palmer 27 pass from Green (Robinson kick); N -- T. Palmer 5 run (Robinson kick); N -- T. Palmer 13 run (Robinson kick); N -- Moore 26 pass from Green (Robinson kick); UP -- Gallimore 80 run (kick failed).
First downs: (NW) 10 (UP) 12; Rushing: (NW) 33-186 (UP) 33-197; Passing: (NW) 3-7, 65 yds., 2 TD (UP) 4-9, 65 yds., 1 TD, 2 int; Pen: (NW) 9-75 (UP) 6-52; Fumbles: (NW) 1-0 (UP) 7-5; Punts: (NW) 2-35.5 (UP) 4-16.0.
Individual leaders -- Rushing: (NW) T. Palmer 10-102, Green 6-31 (UP) Gallimore 14-141, Marsh 4-22, Butler 5-13, Wilkins 1-19; Passing: (NW) Green 3-7, 65 yds. 2 TD (UP) Monroe 4-9, 65 yds. I TD, 2 int.; Receiving: (NW) T. Palmer 1-27, Moore 1-26, (UP) Marsh 2-34, D. Toomer 1-18, Gallimore 1-13.
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