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Just Enough

Northeastern football holds off Currituck, remains undefeated | w/Video

Northeastern 23 Currituck 13

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Northeastern's Tyquan Mercer (with ball) scored the game-winning touchdown against Currituck, Friday.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Northeastern Eagles remained undefeated after Friday night’s homecoming game against Currituck, but it wasn’t easy. The Knights were within striking distance late.

Down by just one possession in the early stages of the fourth quarter, Currituck was one fourth-and-9 defensive stop away from getting the ball back and a chance to take its first lead of the game.

They were just a split-second too late, however, rushing junior Eagles quarterback Aaron Harris, who got rocked right as he let go of the football. Sophomore Jerron Hinton leapt up, outstretching his arms, and came down with the ball for an 18-yard gain inside the Currituck 20-yard line.

“A big play when we needed it,” Northeastern coach Antonio Moore said. “Harris throwing the ball, sticking in there until the last minute taking a big hit. That’s a sign he’s growing up. Games one and two, he would’ve just took off running, but he stuck in there and made a big play.”

The fourth-down conversion eventually allowed senior running back Tyquan Mercer to find the end zone and score the game’s final points with 7:43 remaining as Northeastern held on to a 23-13 victory over the Knights.

Converting on fourth down was also how Currituck (5-2, 1-1 Northeastern Coastal) managed to stay in the game for all four quarters.

The Knights were two of five on the night going for it on their last chance and they made the two successful attempts count.

Down 14-0 in the second quarter with four yards to go at the Northeastern 29-yard line, quarterback Jayden Calloway evaded two Eagles in the backfield before maneuvering his way to the end zone to get Currituck within a score.

Later, Calloway found sophomore Traveon Powell on a 4th-and-6 play for the very first play of the fourth quarter. It ended up being a 26-yard touchdown pass to get the Knights within 17-13.

That’s when Northeastern (7-0, 2-0 NCC) answered with its own fourth-down conversion to take to take the 23-13 lead.

“To come into Northeastern and we know how good Northeastern is... for us to hang in there, I couldn’t be happier with my boys,” Currituck interim coach Paul Bossi said.

Bossi’s defense played a major role in keeping the game close for as long as the Knights possibly could. The 23 points allowed are the fewest any team has given up to the Eagles offense this season.

Northeastern took it to the Currituck defense to begin the game though, scoring touchdowns on its first two drives of the game.

Harris hit Holden Hodge for a 27-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the Eagles’ first drive of the game. Then, on a more methodical eight-play drive the next possession, Harris capped it off with a 29-yard touchdown run to give Northeastern a 14-0 lead eight minutes in.

It would take another 32 minutes of game time, or six possessions, before Currituck allowed Northeastern to reach the end zone again.

“I don’t know if the boys were nervous at first, but once we settled down and scored our first touchdown, I think we had a little bit of life in us,” Bossi said.

While the Eagles lacked in the touchdown department for a good chunk of the game, they were still able to earn a 21-yard field goal from sophomore Ayden Teall after a five-minute drive to open the second half to extend their lead to 17-7.

The drive was helped by a 49-yard kick return by Marcell Lewis to begin the half and a 19-yard run by Harris on a third down.

Guys being able to make plays like those two, Moore noted, were reasons why Northeastern was able to escape with its second closest win of the season.

“(We were) not focused,” Moore said. “Going through the motions, but we’re talented enough to make plays when we needed to to get a win.”

Aside from the two fourth-down touchdowns the Eagles gave up, the Northeastern defense was able to shut out the Knights the rest of the game.

“Currituck is pretty physical,” Moore said. “They tested our physicality tonight by running the ball and running the ball. They said, ‘You have to make the play because we’re running right at you.’ And they did a good job doing that tonight.”

Northeastern was without star linebacker and running back Traveon Freshwater for a third consecutive game for precautionary reasons. Moore said he was cleared Thursday and will start practicing Monday.

For Currituck, it still hasn’t beaten the Eagles since 2013, when the Knights finished 11-3 with a third-round playoff exit.

That year was also the last time Currituck won at least five games, something it already has accomplished this year.

“If we keep working the way we’re working and the boys keep putting their time in and believing in the process, we feel comfortable that we could run the table,” Bossi said. “That’s our goal now.”

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