As far as physical attributes go, Northern Nash probably won’t see another version of their opponent Friday night.
Wilmington Laney was bigger, quicker and possessed a pass-and-catch combination that isn’t the status quo in the Big East Conference.
For a half, that was the difference.
For another half, that made no difference at all.
The Knights overcame a 17-point halftime deficit and even took a fourth-quarter lead before falling short, 47-42, in their final nonconference game of the season.
“The coaching staff made adjustments and the kids came back out and did a great job,” Northern Nash coach Mickey Crouch said. “We were getting worn out and we made adjustments. I hope somebody will give our coaching staff and our kids credit for what they do instead of bad-mouthing us. We couldn’t have played any harder than we did.”
The Knights trailed, 31-14, at the half, but in just a matter of four plays early in the third quarter, Crouch’s team restored its confidence.
It began when Andre Hedgepeth scooped up a fumble off the hands of Laney quarterback Tariq Lane and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
Three plays later, after a Marquez Farmer interception, Kendrick Richardson scored on a screen pass. His 31-yarder pulled the Knights within three points, and by the end of the quarter, Northern Nash had a 35-31 lead on a squad that plays in a strong 4-A Conference.
The Knights (2-3), who have succumbed at times to fatigue early in the season, had an extra bounce in their steps, but their execution down the stretch failed them.
The defense, which allowed 336 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air, was outplayed on a fourth-and-goal from the 9 with 6:52 remaining in the game. Laney’s R.J. Pearsall, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound receiver, out-jumped two Knights defenders to give his team the lead for good.
The Knights fumbled on their next possession and turned over the ball on downs thereafter.
Laney (4-1) added a field goal and a touchdown to put away the game – barely.
JaQuez Avent scored a six-yard touchdown with 29 second remaining, but Laney recovered the onside kick.
“We have good athletes, we’re just young,” Crouch said. “The good thing about that is, we never quit. We could have won the ballgame.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org