Jason Battle won his last game against Northern Nash as a player 15 years ago.
He won his first as a coach at Rocky Mount High on Friday night.
Not much has changed in between.
Rocky Mount High pulled away from Northern Nash in the fourth quarter to win, 25-9, in the regular season finale for both teams at Rocky Mount High School.
But afterward, it didn’t quite feel right to Battle.
The Gryphons didn’t play up to his expectations, and he missed out on his Gatorade bath because a post-game scuffle escalated into harsh words between coaches and a few shoves between players.
“It’s good to win,” said Battle, whose team will play in the first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs next week. “It’s always good to win. It doesn’t really feel good.”
The confrontation at the end of the game escalated from a misunderstanding between coaches at halftime regarding which side of the field teams were expected to warm up.
The misunderstanding turned heated as the teams were shaking hands after the game.
“It was just a misunderstanding between coaches,” Battle said.
Northern Nash coach Mickey Crouch had the same comment as Battle and, like Battle, declined to comment further.
Battle might not have had such a good feeling afterward, but two of his players sure felt good.
Twins Mason and Michael Hines had never beaten Northern Nash in their careers before Friday.
In fact, they lost by a combined score of 49-7 in their two previous games.
Neither started Friday with much of a hope that they finally would break through. They both finished the game much differently.
“They made some plays when we needed them to make plays,” Battle said.
Michael Hines was beaten defensively and failed to produce anything offensively in the first half.
Mason Hines, who is averaging more than 100 yards per game, had just 27 yards through his first nine carries.
But in the fourth quarter, everything changed.
Michael Hines recorded two interceptions, and Mason Hines found the end zone twice.
“We should have won all three of these years, but to have this feeling now, it’s great,” Michael Hines said. “It’s senior year, and I’m going out with a win against my rivals.”
Michael Hines’ first interception led to his brother’s second touchdown, while his second ended Northern Nash’s final possession.
Mason Hines broke through for his first touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. His second sealed the victory.
“It’s my last game here and the first time I’ve beaten Northern Nash,” Mason Hines said. “It’s real special.”
Rocky Mount High (8-2, 3-2) finishes the season with more than double its win total from last season. Meanwhile, Northern Nash (2-8, 0-5) completes its second consecutive disappointing season after winning a share of the Big East Conference championship two years ago.
The Knights were in the game throughout the first half before a quick succession ended their chances.
After Rocky Mount’s Rashawn Harris returned a punt for a touchdown, the Knights re-took possession, down just nine points.
On the ensuing drive, Northern Nash fumbled the ball twice but recovered both. The Knights were then stopped on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
“We just didn’t have anybody,” said Crouch, whose team was missing four starters. “We had defensive backs playing linebacker.”
Rocky Mount High 25
Northern Nash 9
NN 0 3 0 6 – 9
RMH 6 0 6 13 – 25
RMH – Tyrell Williams 5 run (run failed), 6:08
NN – Dylan Hodges 35 field goal, 1:10
RMH – Rashawn Harris 71 punt return (run failed), 10:06
RMH – Mason Hines 14 run (Michae Varnell kick), 11:53
NN – Michael Bertolino 41 pass from Jacob Green (pass failed), 10:04
RMH – Hines 15 run (kick blocked), 3:37
10 First downs..............18
133 Passing yards.............-1
237 Total offense..........256
Rushing – NN: Quay Mann 10-44; JaQuez Avent 5-34; Kendrick Richardson 7-33; Jacob Green 3-3. RMH: Mason Hines 19-94; Ahmad Harrell 9-67; Rashawn Harris 5-60; Tyrell Williams 8-36; Michael Hines 2-20; Joseph Cooper 1-5; Malik Lewis 1-4; Markeyes Shaw 2-2; Joshua Carter 1-0; Micah Varnell 1-(-11); J.T. Smith 2-(-20).
Passing – NN: Green 6-10-1 133. RMH: Smith 1-5-0 (-1).
Receiving – NN: Michael Bertolino 2-71; Richardson 2-44; Kyree Clark 2-18. RMH: Michael Hines 1-(-1).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org