Prep Football: Black Knights escape Panthers, 23-14
Shy Tuttle scored an offensive touchdown, Kennedy McKoy recorded 152 yards rushing and North Davidson defeated the Ledford Panthers 23-14 Friday at Palmer Field.
It was a play at the end of the first half, however, that will have Panther fans chatting on Monday.
Without timeouts and trailing 7-0 with 14 seconds remaining in the second quarter, North called a run play for McKoy, the team's tailback. Tackled for a minimal gain inbounds, the junior fruitlessly struggled to get up off the ground and scramble back to the huddle.
He and the rest of his teammates were still trying to get back to the line of scrimmage as the game clock ticked down inside of five seconds. With 0.7 seconds and players still finding their positions, an inadvertant whistle stopped the action – and essentially gave North a fourth timeout.
The officials put five seconds back on the clock and Daniel Leonard booted a 25-yard field goal as time expired on the half. After the intermission, the Black Knights (2-0) came out on a mission. McKoy broke his third carry of the second half for a 31-yard touchdown to give North a 10-7 lead.
“If anybody can give me an answer to that, I'd love to hear it,” Adams said of the strange sequence to end the half. “Three points changes the whole complexion of the game. But they have a tough job to do. That one play didn't make the difference in the game.”
Ledford sustained two lengthy drives that culminated in touchdowns. The first was was a 14 play, 78-yard possession capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Dalton Harris. The last was a 13 play, 87-yard drive at the end of the third quarter that gave the visiting squad a 14-10 edge.
The Panthers (1-1) were still clinging to that four-point lead when North failed to convert a 4th-and-7 from the Ledford 30 yard line with nine minutes left in the contest. Two plays later, however, Harris coughed up a fumble that was recovered by Cody Malcolm.
“We tell the kids when we get in games like this, there is always going to be two or three big plays that have a huge impact,” Panthers coach Chris Adams said. “There's things we could have done to help ourselves early in the game.”
Early in the game, Harris and McKoy dominated the ball. Both accounted for their teams' respective net rushing totals in the first half. Harris had 51 yards and the game's only touchdown, while McKoy's 10 first-half carries netted 57 yards.
For 45 minutes, the Panthers stymied North's offensive arsenal and their diminutive tailback appeared poised to effectively utilize keep-away to stun the 4-A powerhouse.
“They had a great game plan coming in, and that was to keep the ball away from us,” North coach Mark Holcomb said. “In the first half, when we had it, we didn't do a lot with it. And that is to their credit, too.”
It was a different story in the fourth quarter, though.
The opportunistic Black Knights' defense gobbled up the game-changing fumble and Tuttle, the 315-pound defensive tackle, plunged into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 6:07 remaining. Leonard's missed extra point left the score at 16-14 until Brandon McCray added an insurance 1-yard touchdown at the 3:38 mark to give North its final margin.
“We're going to get everybody's best shot,” Holcomb said. “I liked the fact when they took the lead, we didn't get down. I was happy for the kids that we won. As we know, we've got a long way to go.”
Adams also came away pleased with his team's effort. Despite the loss, he appreciated his players' fight and believes the experience will help them pull out wins later in the season.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win against a very good football team,” Adams said. “This game is not going to do anything but help us.”