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Northeastern shuts out Bertie to advance in playoffs w/Video

2A State Playoffs, First Round

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Northeastern’ Traveon Freshwater dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the game against Bertie, Friday.

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By Craig Moyer
Sports Writer

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Northeastern dominated Northeastern Coastal Conference foe Bertie on both sides of the ball from start to finish on their way to a 55-0 win at Northeastern Athletic Complex Friday night.

The contest was a first round matchup in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A state playoffs, as the Eagles advance to the second round with the win. 

The Eagles entered the game as the No. 1 seed in the east, while the Falcons earned the 16th seed in the eastern bracket.

Northeastern (12-0) was in control of its conference opponent from the opening whistle to the closing seconds of the playoff victory.

After the Eagles received the opening kickoff, three plays later J.R. Walker broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run to give Northeastern a 7-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game.

After the defense forced Bertie’s offense into a three-and-out, the Eagles’ offense was back to work.

Walker capped off a six-play, 63-yard drive with his second touchdown run of the first quarter, this time from 13 yards out.

A Traveon Freshwater two-point conversion run gave Northeastern a 15-0 lead early, but the Eagles were far from finished.

After the Eagles’ defense forced the Falcons into their third three-and-out of the opening quarter, the offense continued their strong performance.

Freshwater rushed in from 19 yards out and added another two-point conversion run to give Northeastern a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Bertie (4-8) struggled to produce on offense throughout the game and was unable to slow down the Eagles’ offense.

Northeastern held Bertie without a first down in the entire game, as the Falcons offense was forced into six three-and-outs and two turnovers.

Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore spoke to The Daily Advance after the game about how important a strong defense is in order to go deep into the playoffs.

“Our defense is playing really well right now, that is what we need to happen in the playoffs, offense can put up points, but defense needs to get stops too,” Moore said.

Holden Hodge became the third Northeastern player to rush for a touchdown in the game on a 3-yard touchdown run, as Dallas Hall connected with Damar Sutton on a two-point pass to take a 31-0 lead.

Two plays into the Falcons’ following drive, a fumble was scooped up by Wade Staten and returned 24 yards for a score to give the Eagles a 37-0 lead.

The defensive score started the running clock with six and a half minutes remaining in the first half.

On the final play of the opening half, Hall connected with Nolan Hodge on a 50-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 43-0 lead heading into the half.

Hall added a rushing score early in the third quarter from 30 yards out, breaking tackles on his way to the end zone for a 49-0 lead.

Freshman fullback Quasi Thomas added a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 55-0.

Ten different Northeastern players recorded at least one rushing attempt, as the Eagles totaled 345 yards on the ground in the game.

With the commanding lead, the Eagles had the ability to give playoff experience to some of their younger players, who Moore said have all worked hard throughout the season.

“Those younger guys did a great job on JV and we wanted them to get a little more experience,” Moore said.

The head coach added that it is always next man up and you never know when a backup will have to come in and play.

Having won 12-straight games, having scored 40 or more points in every game and allowing eight points or less in half of those games, the Eagles seem to be soaring higher each week.

Moore has stressed the importance of momentum over the last two weeks, as momentum is certainly on the Eagles’ side.

“We are on a run, we are on a mission, this team has been working hard and I am proud of them,” Moore said moments after his post-game speech to his team.

That mission will continue Friday, as Northeastern hosts Clinton in the second round at 7:30 p.m.

The Dark Horses advanced to the second round with a 21-15 win over eighth seed First Flight on the road Friday.

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