Published: 12:07 AM, Sat Nov 19, 2011
Defending state champion Northern Guilford hands Douglas Byrd first loss
If there was one thing defending state 3-AA champion Northern Guilford didn't need to defeat Douglas Byrd in the third round of the state playoffs Friday night it was help. But the host Eagles provided plenty.
Byrd turned the ball over five times, four of the giveaways contributing to touchdowns, as the Nighthawks routed the Eagles 35-6.
The win sends Northern, 12-1, into next Friday's 3-AA Eastern title game at Wilson Hunt. Hunt eliminated Cardinal Gibbons in another third-round game Friday. The loss ended Byrd's season at 13-1.
"Big time football is always decided by turnovers,'' Byrd coach Russell Stone said. "We turned it over five times, they turned it over once and we got beat.''
If there was a turning point in the game, Stone felt it came in the first quarter after Northern took the opening kickoff and drove to a fourth and 10 at the Byrd 28.
The Nighthawks went for the first down, and quarterback Daniel Downing found a leaping Scooter Mooney in the corner of the endzone for the first Northern score. Had Byrd held there, it would have been a 0-0 game with the Eagles getting their first possession on their own 28.
"A stop there is a different story,'' said Stone. "The second half, the harder we tried to come back, the bigger mess we made. We played hard to the very end. We just got beat tonight by a better team led by an unbelievable quarterback.''
Lorenzo Pooler, who led Byrd in rushing with 143 yards, felt the Eagles came out flat. "Things happen for a reason,'' he said. "We had to keep playing, but I could tell we started giving up, and when we started giving up, things started going downhill.''
A botched hook and lateral play gave Northern the ball at the Byrd 48 late in the first quarter. The Nighthawks turned that possession into a one-yard scoring run by Downing.
A Breon Davis pass was picked off by T.J. Logan early in the second quarter and returned 35 yards for a score and a 21-0 Northern lead.
Byrd finally got on the board in the third quarter after Alfondzo Tramble picked off a Downing pass.
On the next play, Pooler went 32 yards for the score.
"I thought that was the push we needed,'' Pooler said.
But it didn't happen. "It was a complete beating,'' Stone said. "When we scored, we didn't execute and we gave them an easy extra point block. We couldn't get going. That's a credit to them.''
Two more turnovers in the final quarter, a fumble on a bad pitch by Davis and another interception of a Davis pass, led to two more touchdowns for Northern and a 35-6 margin.
Pooler said he'll focus now on academics as he tries to earn an athletic scholarship with a Division II school. "I'm going to go do my scores and put my work in,'' he said.
Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3519.
Northern Guilford 35, Douglas Byrd 6
NG - Scooter Mooney 28 pass from Daniel Downing (Austin Hoke kick)
NG - Downing 1 run (kick failed)
NG - T.J. Logan 35 interception return (Logan run)
DB - Lorenzo Pooler 32 run (kick failed)
NG - Tre Purcell 32 fumble return (Hoke kick)
NG - Downing 1 run (Hoke kick)
Rushing: N - Logan 22-101, Downing 15-45. DB - Pooler 18-143.
Passing: NG - Downing 5-10-1, 93. DB - Breon Davis 9-18-3, 94.
Receiving: N - Logan 4-65. DB - Jordan Hill 3-21, Kevin Samuels 2-39
Records: Northern Guilford 12-1, Douglas Byrd 13-1.