Montgomery 3A

Northwood holds off Blake to win first

By Hunter Pavlik
Special to The Gazette
Saturday, September 25, 2010; 12:18 AM

Northwood's defense stood tall when it had to late in the game Friday night, helping the Gladiators secure their first win of the season, 22-20, over visiting Blake.

After falling behind 22-0 at the half, Blake (0-4 overall, 0-3 Montgomery 3A) scored on its first three second-half possessions, and had a chance to tie midway through the fourth quarter after Brandom Simms's 29-yard touchdown run. But Simms was hit in the backfield on Blake's two-point conversion attempt, securing the Gladiators' lead. The Northwood (1-3, 1-2) defense then stopped Blake on its final two possessions to secure the victory.

"In the past, we wouldn't have been able to hold onto this with the defense that we had the past few years," Northwood Coach Dennis Harris said. "We let up in the second half, which I didn't like, but we'll take the win any way we can get it."

Despite scoring only 12 points in its first three games, Northwood's offense came out clicking in the first half, scoring touchdowns on three of its four possessions. After Northwood's Devin Moyer recovered a fumble by Blake running back Thomas Handy, Jabari Francis took a sweep to the right 82 yards for a touchdown on the Gladiators' fourth play. Quarterback Tristan Pomeroy added the two-point conversion for the 8-0 lead.

Francis was the focal point of the Northwood offense, totaling 158 yards rushing and receiving.

Blake's offense managed to move the ball in the first half, but had three turnovers, including two in the red zone. Northwood capitalized, adding touchdowns from junior Ange Gadji and a 1-yard sneak from quarterback Charles Hennessey.

The Gladiators' offense converted on 5 of 6 third-down attempts in the first half, and on its only fourth-down attempt, to continue moving the chains early on.

"Weekly we try and do different things. ¿ We were able to execute and keep drives going," Harris said.

Despite the halftime deficit, Blake came out and quickly cut into the Gladiators' lead. Defensive back Tristan Fontaine picked off Hennessey at the Northwood 16. Simms scored three plays later on a 2-yard run, one of three second-half touchdowns for the senior, who finished with 174 yards on 22 carries.

"I'm proud of their effort; it was a tale of two halves, obviously," Blake Coach Tony Nazzaro said. "We came out in the first half and played with no heart and emotion. And that's what I told them at the halftime. I told them, 'There's no Xs and Os adjustments, all we have to do is go out and play this half like men.' "

Simms was dominant in the second half, adding 1- and 29-yard touchdown scores, but he could not tie the game. Simms, who had done plenty of damage getting to the sidelines, was hit immediately after receiving the handoff on the two-point attempt, preventing him from making a move.

Blake was unable to get back into Northwood territory on its final two drives.

This story is from The Gazette group of community newspapers published by Post-Newsweek Media, a unit of The Washington Post Co.

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