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Northeastern holds off D.H. Conley in overtime (Video)

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Northeastern football's Nolan Hodge (with ball) vs. D.H. Conley, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.

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By Craig Moyer
Sports Writer

Friday, August 18, 2017

 

Fifteen touchdowns, over 1,000 yards of offense, a game-saving blocked field goal by a quarterback and a game-winning quarterback sneak in overtime were just some of the highlights of the Eagles 55-49 win over the Vikings on Thursday night at the Northeastern Athletic Complex.

Both teams’ offenses came out firing on all cylinders, while the defenses found themselves trying to keep up, as both teams scored on their first three possessions of the game to bring the score to 21-21 early in the second quarter.

 

D.H. Conley, a 3A opponent out of Greenville, won the coin toss and elected to receive, to give their offense led by East Carolina University commit Holton Ahlers a chance to take the early lead.

Ahlers and the Vikings needed less than two minutes to deliver the opening score, a 15-yard pass to running back Isaiah Gamble.

Ahlers finished the game with 459 yards of total offense, completing 17 of 32 pass attempts for 353 yards and five touchdowns and rushing seven times for 106 yards and one touchdown.

J.R. Walker tied things up for the Eagles on a 14-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game and cap off a four-play, 75-yard opening drive for Northeastern.

After a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Ahlers to regain the lead, the Eagles needed a score to keep pace, that is when quarterback Dallas Hall delivered his first of many highlight-reel plays of the night.

Hall took the snap at the eight yard line, but was immediately under pressure from two Vikings’ defenders, but was able to escape the pocket to the left and deliver a shovel pass to Malik Combs for a touchdown as he was being pulled to the ground.

Hall spoke with The Daily Advance after the game on what was running through is head on the pivotal play.

“Sometimes you have to improvise to get in to the end zone, that was a big play, we really needed to score there and that’s what we did,” Hall said.

Hall finished the game with close to 400 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, three through the air and two on the ground, including the game winning rushing score in overtime.

The Eagles found themselves trailing by a score in the second quarter when Hall completed a pass Nolan Hodge in the right flat, then Hodge juked two Vikings’ defenders and raced down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown.

Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore spoke with The Daily Advance after the win about how he was not only impressed with Hodge’s play, but with his entire team’s performance.

“We have a lot of receivers and you never know who’s going to have a huge night, but I don’t want to just focus on any one guy, I thought as a team, everybody played well,” Moore said.

The Eagles entered halftime with a 35-21 lead and after both teams were shut down on their opening drives of the second half, Northeastern’s offense took the field with a chance to gain a commanding three-score lead.

Treveon Freshwater did not take long to deliver for the Eagles, as he broke through for a 71-yard rushing touchdown on the second play of the drive to push the lead to 42-21 with 7:32 left in the third quarter.

The Vikings’ star-studded offense was not done yet, as they outscored the Eagles 28-7 over the next 14 minutes of game time to tie the game at 45.

The game-tying score came with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, as Ahlers delivered a perfectly thrown pass to CJ Johnson while being hit by an Eagles’ defender for a a 56-yard score.

The Eagles marched down the field in the final seconds, looking for the game-winning score, finding themselves with a 4th and 1 at the 14 yard line with just 14 seconds left.

After Moore called his final timeout, kicker LP Hornthal entered with a chance to win the game with a 30-yard field goal, but a Vikings player, none other than Ahlers, came around the left side and dove to block the field goal and send the game to overtime.

Both teams would be given an offensive possession starting at the opponents’ 10-yard line in overtime, as the Eagles started with the first possession in the extra period.

Hall took matters into his own hands, rushing three times through the middle, eventually breaking through for a touchdown on the third rush, but the Eagles’ extra-point attempt went wide, leaving the score at 55-49.

Moore had high praise for Hall after the game, repeatedly using the word gutsy to describe his quarterback and said he definitely proved he can compete at the 2A level against tough competition.

Ahlers and the Vikings’ offense entered, knowing a touchdown and made extra point would seal the victory, but the Eagles defense was determined to preserve the win.

A 4th and long sack by JaCori Shaw and Walker sealed the victory for the Eagles and sent the large home crowd into a frenzy, a win that could propel the Eagles forward for the remainder of the season.

On a hot and humid night, with lots of players going down to cramps throughout the game, Moore credited his team’s endurance in their ability to perform so well in the overtime period.

“We always talk about the fifth quarter, in practice we do a lot of running and conditioning drills for that fifth quarter and we dominated it tonight,” Moore said.

Hall was quick to give credit to his offensive line, running backs and receivers on the win, which he said was very important for the team moving forward.

“It built a lot of confidence, we got used to playing with each other tonight, our chemistry got built a very good amount tonight and that will help us next week,” Hall said.

The schedule does not get any easier for the Eagles, who travel to Norfolk, Virginia next week for a match up against 5A Norview, a semifinalist in the Virginia state playoffs last season.

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