Like many had predicted, the North Side-Lexington Region 7-4A showdown started out as a defensive battle.
But on 3rd-and-9 from the Lexington 33-yard line, Lexington quarterback Tylan Johnson dropped back and hit a wide open Seth Parker for a 67-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half.
That play gave the Tigers room to run the ball and pull away with a 30-7 win over the Indians at North Side.
“We knew they were crowding the box,” Lexington coach Bryant Hollingsworth said. “We had to get the ball in the air. It gave us a little breathing room. We were running the ball better late in the game.”
North Side held Lexington to 83 yards of offense in the first half, and the Indians weren’t giving up much more to start the second half.
The third down play wasn’t the first time that Lexington had ran the play in the game, but this time it worked to perfection. Johnson pump faked, and the North Side defender bit, allowing Parker to get wide open.
“We had run the same play before,” Johnson said. “The first time, we got yards. The second time, they ate it up. The third time, it was a heckuva play call by Coach [Adam] Yates.”
The North Side defense again stalled Lexington’s drives until midway through the fourth quarter.
The Tigers’ Darrius Bomar intercepted a North Side pass, and seven plays later, Ryan Courtright hit a 37-yard field goal with 6:43 remaining for the 23-7 lead.
“I think they were wearing down a little late, and we are a more experienced team this year,” Hollingsworth said. “We knew it was going to be a battle.”
On the ensuing kickoff, North Side fumbled and was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty, setting up Lexington with a short field.
Tariqious Tisdale scored his second touchdown from 14 yards out for the final score of the game.
“North Side is a great team, and they have gotten us the last two years,” Johnson said. “We were more physical tonight and came away with the win. This win puts us in a good spot.”
Penalties hurt North Side on multiple occasions as the Indians were penalized 10 times for 105 yards with six of those penalties being of the 15-yard variety.
Anytime North Side had a big play, whether thorugh yardage or a big stop, the field was covered in yellow. The penalty that might have hurt the worst was on the first play of the fourth quarter when Dexter Pirtle ran a punt back 75 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back brought the ball back to the North Side 14-yard line.
Lexington had its share of penalities to with seven flags for 85 yards, and at times the game got chippy.
“I have got to be a leader,” Johnson said. “That is why I am the quarterback. They can lean on me to lead them.”
Michael Odom, 425-9754