Northern Nash lined up in the victory formation, ready to take a knee and secure its second straight win.
The Knights’ coach, however, was behind the bench, fist-pumping in front of the student section and leading the Northern Nash crowd’s celebration.
Randy Raper promised it would be different this season, and after winning their first home game of the year – a 28-13 triumph against Southern Vance on Friday – one thing is different: The Knights have their first winning streak since November 2010.
“It was a big win for us, our home opener,” Raper said. “(I) just wanted to get everybody excited. Northern Nash football, we’re changing.”
The Knights (2-3) played like a winning football team Friday. Northern Nash never trailed and held the Raiders (3-2) to 82 yards of total offense.
Northern Nash especially was dominant in the first half, holding Southern Vance to negative-17 yards of total offense through the first two quarters.
Both numbers single-handedly were skewed by Northern Nash defensive end Kendrick Richardson, who harassed the Raiders all night. Richardson tallied four sacks – Southern Vance quarterback Ty-Trveon Roberts finished with negative-34 yards rushing – and shut down just about everything that went left.
“They tried a couple of schemes on me,” Richardson said. “They tried a double team me up, but that doesn’t affect me. I’m still trying to get in that backfield every play. That’s my main goal.”
Northern Nash recovered an onside kick to start the game, then ran seven straight quarterback keepers, capped with Jacob Green’s one-yard sneak gave it a 6-0 lead.
Quan Whitakers later broke a 49-yard touchdown run to give the Knights a 13-0 lead at halftime.
Southern Vance came within six due to Roberts’ 17-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Henderson in the third quarter, but Tyrees Wiggins returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw it open up right in front of me,” Wiggins said. “I went through the hole, and I had my man trap block for me, No. 55 (Travis Pittman), and I just scored.”
The Knights saw an opportunity while breaking down film this week, but Wiggins bobbled the Raiders’ first kickoff.
On the second one, he caught the ball cleanly and wasn’t touched.
“I told him right before they were going to kick off to us again, I said, 'We’re going to run this one back, now,’” Raper said. “Stay in your lanes, stay with your block and go. That’s what happened.”
Both teams scored once more after that point, but Wiggins’ kickoff gave the Knights’ defense all the room it needed.
Green finished 6-for-7 with a touchdown for Northern Nash, and cornerback Namir Davis recorded an interception.
“Everybody was just doing their job. Everybody buckled down,” said Richardson, who also rushed for 52 yards. “This was a big game, and we did what we had to do.”
Northern Nash 28
Southern Vance 13
SV 0 0 7 6 – 13
NN 6 7 8 7 – 28
NN – Jacob Green 1 run (kick fails), 8:26
NN – Quan Whitakers 49 run (Corbin Griffin kick), 5:27
SV – Shawn Henderson 17 pass from Ty-traveon Roberts (Will Pernell kick), 6:39
NN – Tyrees Wiggins 84 kick return (Kendrick Richardson to Kyree Clark conversion pass), 6:22
NN – Jamayis Rosser 20 pass from Green (Griffin kick), 5:21
SV – Roberts 5 run (conversion pass fails), 4:48
5 First downs.................14
73 Passing yards............44
82 Total offense...........250
Rushing – SV: Qualik Shearin 14-45; William Henderson 1-3; James Gibbs 1-(-3); Roberts 6-(-34). NN: Whitakers 5-67; Jaquez Howington 15-55; Richardson 9-52; Rosser 2-20; Green 9-20; Michael Bertolino 2-10; Kendal Hamilton 1-4; Team 2-(-2).
Passing – SV: Roberts 3-13-1, 73. NN: Green 6-7-1, 49.
Receiving – SV: Shawn Henderson 2-74; Shearin 1-(-1). NN: Rosser 1-20; Bertolino 3-16; Jaquez Avent 1-4; Trent Flora 1-4.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org