Preston Poag consistently preaches the power of resilience to his North Murray High School football team, and Friday night's 31-30 win at Northwest Whitfield was a prime example of why.
The Mountaineers, playing their first game, trailed 22-7 early in the second quarter but scored the game's next 17 points. They later held Northwest scoreless on three fourth-quarter possessions to secure the nonregion win.
"It was a battle with a lot of crazy things happening," Poag said. "You could tell it was our first game. We turned the ball over a bunch and dropped maybe five interceptions, but we played very well in the second half, especially our defense. We made the big plays when we had to.
"You just have to believe. They got up on us, but we had a bunch of time left. We don't roll over. We don't always win them, but we never roll over."
Junior quarterback Seth Griffin passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jadyn Rice, with Judson Petty adding 126 yards on the ground and a 30-yard touchdown catch on the game's second play. The Bruins (1-2) scored on an Adrian Reyes 9-yard run, an Owen Brooker to Hudson Gray 41-yard touchdown pass and a Brooker to Ray Morrison 53-yard pass for the big early lead.
Rice kickstarted the comeback with an 80-yard touchdown after taking a short Griffin pass to the house to cut the lead to 22-14 at halftime. The North Murray defense then forced two turnovers to start the second half, turning them into an Owen Hannah field goal and Griffin's 1-yard sneak for a 24-22 lead three minutes into the third quarter.
Northwest regained the lead as Brooker capped a short drive after a North Murray fumble with a short keeper, but the Mountainneers answered as Griffin hit Rice for a 27-yard touchdown late in the quarter. Neither team scored in the final quarter, with Northwest having two drives end in North Murray territory.
Brooker passed for 315 yards and ran for 66, with Ray Morrison getting 133 yards on eight catches.
Ringgold 44, Ridgeland 0: The Tigers handed the Panthers their second consecutive shutout to improve to 2-0 as Mason Parker had three touchdown passes, two to Peyton Williams (5 and 13 yards), who also added a 13-yard touchdown run. Kori Dumas had touchdown runs of 22 and 44 yards, with Malachi Hill also hauling in a 13-yard scoring pass.
North Forsyth 42, Dalton 10: The Raiders (2-1) scored the game's final 28 points to hand the Catamounts (1-2) the road loss. North Forsyth quarterback Drew Aucoin had 165 yards on the ground and two touchdowns and added 113 passing yards and a score, while Patrick Corrigan added 132 rushing yards and two scores. Journey Boston's 79-yard touchdown run cut the lead to 14-7 in the first half, and J.J. Robledo made it a four-point game at halftime with a 49-yard field goal. Boston topped the Cats with 83 yards on three carries, with Karim Page netting 63 yards on three catches.
Heritage 34, King's Academy (Tennessee) 14: The Generals, after having two games canceled due to COVID-19, opened their season at home in a big way as Kaden Swope passed for a pair of touchdowns and ran for two more. Swope, making his first start at quarterback, hit Paxton McCrary with a 20-yard pass to open the scoring, then added scoring runs of 5 and 85 yards before hitting Tyler Cheatwood for a 36-yard touchdown.
Christian Heritage 34, King's Ridge Christian 32: The Lions (1-2) won the back-and-forth game in Dalton as Christian Thomas threw a pair of touchdown passes to Wyatt Brumlow, Eli Thomason added a touchdown run and the defense registered a pair of safeties. The visitors scored 14 points in the third quarter to take a 32-31 lead, but Carson Russell gave the Lions the lead with a 22-yard field goal with just more than two minutes left. Senior linebacker Solomon Locke sealed the game with a fourth-down sack.
Trion 28, Model 7: The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 as senior running back Rob Brown had 162 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Logan Eller connected with Linkin Farrar on second-half scoring passes of 19 and 21 yards and to Bryce Cordell on a 7-yard touchdown pass in the first half. Eller ended with 107 yards rushing and 98 passing, with Farrar catching three balls for 40 yards.
Sonoraville 32, Fannin County 0: The Phoenix posted their second consecutive shutout to open the season. Quarterback Jaxon Pate was 14-of-22 for 186 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a pair of rushing scores, with Zach Lyles adding 125 yards on the ground. Wyatt Springfield had a pair of touchdown catches to go with a fumble recovery and interception, with Nick Beddington adding to the defensive dominance with an interception.
Southeast Whitfield 48, Gordon Central 22: The Raiders put up 460 rushing yards to earn their first win of the season in three starts. Brady Ensley had 281 yards and three touchdowns (14, 3, 13 yards), with Jordan Trevino adding 175 yards and three scores (7, 1, 30 yards).