It was a game that required incredible patience from both sides to prevail.
Playing in a mudpit at Viking Stadium on Friday night, the LaGrange Gators fumbled 12 times and amazingly only lost two of them.
Northside, on the other hand, fumbled six times and lost a pair itself.
What the Gators lacked in total yards, though, they made up for in field position in the second half.
LaGrange turned that good field position into a fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion for a hard-fought 14-7 road win over the Vikings.
“That was a impressive win for our team against a great program like Northside’s,” LaGrange coach Jules Sullen said. “Coach (Trev) Faulk and his staff do a great job with those kids. We really feared No. 15 (Shakeir Ryan). Our gameplan was to slow him down.”
LaGrange’s defense, with a little help from the mud, certainly did the trick, limiting Ryan to 14 yards rushing on five tries and no receptions on the night.
“Hats off to our secondary coach and the defensive coaches,” Sullen said. “We moved to the 3-4 defense tonight and it really fits our personnel. The defense did a great job.”
On the flip side, Faulk just couldn’t stop shaking his head in frustration after Friday’s loss.
“I’ve never been involved in a game where the other team fumbled the ball so many times and we recovered so few of them,” he said. “It was incredible.
“Our defense did a great job all night, though. They kept us in the game. The defense played well enough to win. We’ve got to do something to score more points. I’m just disgusted with myself for not putting our kids in better position to be successful.”
Things started out well enough for the Vikings when Chris Ozene connected with Clarence Kelly on a bubble screen that Kelly quickly turned into a 54-yard touchdown pass.
Two drives later, Northside had an 11-play possession, but it ended in an 11-yard quarterback sack to turn it over on downs. After that, the Vikings spent practically the rest of the game in their own territory.
Northside would finish with 10 first downs, 33 rushing yards thanks to 68 yards in losses over the course of the game and 103 yards passing.
LaGrange countered with eight first downs, 76 yards rushing and 61 passing.
“We ran the ball well in the second half, but every time we’d get a drive going, we’d get a penalty or fumble the ball or something like that,” Faulk said. “Their quarterback struggled with controlling the ball in the mud and so did our kid. It was just a very frustrating game.”
LaGrange, meanwhile, got possession at the NHS 20 late in the third period and turned that into a five-play, 20-yard scoring drive. Nicholas Pitre hit Freddie Williams on third-and-goal from the 3 for a TD pass, before the same two hooked up for the two-point conversion pass and a 14-7 lead.
LaGrange’s first score was a 1-yard TD plunge by Quindan Barry at 8:31 in the second period.
“It was a rough, rough night,” Faulk said. “That’s not a film I’m going to want to watch.”