Vikes Nip Mustangs in Jayvee Football
It had all the characteristics of a football season-opener with many of the players playing on the high school level for the first time. It also had the exciting air that comes when two cross-county rivals battle for bragging rights.
When the North Moore junior varsity football team entertained Union Pines Thursday, there were many yellow flags along with the two teams putting the ball on the ground for a total of 12 times, with half resulting in a change of possession. But for excitement and entertainment, it ranked among the best in this annual event.
The visiting Vikings had to hold off a couple of Mustang rallies in the final period, giving Union Pines a 14-12 victory.
Viking freshman running back Zachary Davis’ one-yard plunge on the first play of the fourth quarter turned out to be the winning touchdown. But it was freshman Sam Parsons’ two extra-point kicks that provided the winning margin for Union Pines.
Union Pines gambled five times on fourth down, but the Mustangs’ defense came up with stops on four of the gambles.
The game started out looking like the Vikings’ option offense was going to dominate the contest, especially Davis, who ripped off a 25-yard run on the game’s first offensive play. The Vikings offense marched to the Mustangs’ 34-yard line where they faced a fourth-and-one for a first down. Mustang sophomore Ruben Gonzales was there to stop the attempt for no gain, giving the Mustangs their first offensive possession of the game.
On their third play, the Mustangs coughed up the first of the four fumbles they lost during the game. Union Pines had excellent field possession on the Mustangs’ 29-yard line.
Union Pines picked up a first down at the 18-yard line. The Vikings moved to the 16-yard line where they faced a fourth and eight yards to go. A false start penalty on the Vikings moved the ball back to the 21-yard line. An incomplete pass on the fourth-down gamble turned the ball back over to the Mustangs.
North Moore was unable to pick up a first down, having to deal with one of its nine penalties and a couple of bad snaps, forcing a punt by freshman Patrick Harner. Union Pines’ Tyler McRae returned the punt to the Mustangs’ 25.
The Vikings’ offense sputtered, dealing with a false start penalty and bad pitch that resulted in a seven-yard loss. Union Pines faced a fourth down and 18 yards on the Mustangs’ 34-yard line. Viking sophomore quarterback Grant Jefferson hooked up with McRae, who out jumped his defender for a 25-yard gain and a first down at the nine.
From there Tristin Franklin found the end zone on a nine-yard run. Parsons booted the extra point, putting his team up 7-0 with 8:06 left the first half.
For the remainder of the opening half, each team turned the ball over on fumbles. On the final play of the half, Mustang sophomore Nick Rush picked off a Viking pass at the Mustangs’ 45-yard line. When it appeared he was stopped, he lateral to teammate Kirby Lambert, who nearly broke it for a touchdown down the sideline, but was tackled, ending the first half.
To open the second half, the Vikings tried an on-side kick that didn’t travel the necessary 10 yards, giving the Mustangs excellent field position on the Vikings’ 44-yard line.
With the freshmen running tandem of Jordan Maness and Aaron Richardson finding some running room, the Mustangs marched to the 25-yard line. The Vikings were flagged for being offsides, moving the ball to the 20-yard line. Maness connected with Nathaniel Needham just inside the goal line for the Mustangs’ first touchdown. The extra point kick was blocked, leaving the home team on the short end of a 7-6 score.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings fumbled the ball and North’s Remi Summers pounced on the loose ball at Union Pines’ 48-yard line. The Mustangs picked up one first down, but had to deal with three penalties and a 12-yard quarterback sack delivered by Union Pines’ Keshawn Robertson.
After a Mustang punt, the Vikings took possession at their 23-yard line. On first down, Robert Collins got loose on the sidelines, racing 49 yards to the Mustangs’ 28-yard line. It took Union Pines six plays for Davis to score on his one-yard plunge on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Parsons’ kick gave Union Pines a 14-6 lead with 9:49 left in the contest.
On the ensuing Mustang possession, quarterback Maness was injured on the second play and had to be replaced by Lambert. Lambert hooked up with a streaking Rush, who gathered the ball in without losing stride and then outraced the defenders for a 65-yard touchdown. The Mustangs tried to pass for the two-point conversion but were not successful, leaving them trailing by two points with 8:04 left in the game.
The Mustangs forced the Vikings to punt on the next possession, but the return was fumbled, allowing Union Pines to keep possession at the Mustangs’ 35-yard line. On the next play, Collins went 35 yards to the house, but the Vikings were flagged for holding, bringing the ball back to the 45-yard line.
The Mustangs got the ball back with 2:15 left in the game, but a bad snap, an incomplete pass and a fumble recovered by the Vikings killed North Moore’s final try for the win.
The Vikings finished the game with 185 total yards, with Collins finishing with 99 yards and Davis with 60 yards. The Mustangs had 158 total yards with 94 yards coming on passes. Richardson was North Moore’s top rusher with 59 yards while Maness adding 33 yards.
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