Late miscue dooms Blue Devils

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     By Stan Veitch
     Sports Correspondent

You got the feeling during last Friday’s Etowah/Northridge football game that the first team to make a mistake would wind up on the short end of the stick.

And so it went at Jim Glover Filed in Attalla.

On the fourth play of the second half, Etowah High’s Caleb Horton came in for a handoff on what was to be a reverse. Somewhere between the hands of quarterback Andy Noles and Horton, the ball fell out and bounced 22 yards the wrong way. Northridge found itself with the ball and a short 40-yard field to work with.

Nine plays later, the Class 6A Jaguars scored and broke a 6-6 tie. Northridge held on from there and won the game, 13-6.

“Turnovers have a way of deciding a close game,” Etowah coach Drew Noles said. “We battled and never gave in. I was proud of the guys for that. We were also shorthanded. But it was a typical first game for both teams.
“We didn’t schedule this game to be easy. It’s a good one to see what we need to work on.”

Class 5A No. 6 Etowah struck on its first possession when Andy Noles connected with Oman Smothers on a catch-and-run that went for 38 yards. A two-point conversion attempt failed, and with 8:53 left in the first quarter, the Blue Devils owned a 6-0 lead.

Etowah enjoyed that lead for most of the first half, but the Jaguars’ Gary Quarles ran in from 15 yards with only 2:05 left in the half. Northridge also tried for two points and it failed, knotting the score at 6-all. Quarles’ touchdown also came from benefit of a short field, as Northridge had to cover 42 yards following a short punt.

Etowah didn’t roll over after the Jaguars second touchdown, but Northridge’s defense was stingier in the second half than the first.
“We wanted to run the ball but they took it away,” coach Noles said. “We’re in a lot better shape than we have been on opening weeks, but we can get better. We’ll use this game to get better. This kind of game is a character builder.”

In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, Andy Noles threw a pass downfield. Smothers was smothered between two Jaguars defenders and Tariq Dunn intercepted it. It appeared that Northridge scored again, as Dunn ran the ball all the way to the end zone. But a block in the back call brought it back, leaving the Jaguars to run out the clock.

Etowah visits Cullman next week.

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