Eagles stomp Golden Tonadoes for first-round win
Northeastern 48 Fairmont 7
By David Gough
Sunday, November 18, 2018
On the final play of Friday’s first half, Northeastern defensive end William Riddick chased after Fairmont quarterback Jordan Waters.
The senior caught up to him and forced a fumble, allowing junior Adrian Spellman to pick the ball up and sprint untouched for a 65-yard touchdown as the second quarter clock expired.
Spellman’s scoop-and-score was the Eagles’ 48th and final point of the night as the No. 1 seed of the 2A NCHSAA east regional routed the No. 16 Golden Tornadoes 48-7 in a first round matchup.
“The kids were having fun tonight, that’s what I liked about it,” Northeastern coach Antonio Moore said. “Great awareness by Spellman taking off and running. He’s pretty fast for being pretty big. Just a good, fun night.”
The fumble recovery for a touchdown was a microcosm of how well the night, and maybe more specifically the second quarter, went for the Eagles.
Northeastern (11-0) outscored Fairmont 28-0 in the second quarter with the help of quick defensive stops.
The first three Golden Tornado possessions of the quarter all went backwards. The first two were three-and-outs as they combined for -10 yards of offense.
Fairmont (5-7) earned its first first down of the game on its next drive, but a third down 16-yard sack credited to senior Traveon Freshwater pushed the Golden Tornadoes two yards behind their initial line of scrimmage.
Fairmont had negative yardage through that point of the night, before it moved the ball forward 31 yards on its final possession of the half. That, however, is the drive that ended in six points for Northeastern.
The Eagles sacked Waters five times in the first half and had three other tackles for losses in the first 24 minutes.
Moore, undoubtedly, was pleased with how his defense played Friday.
“They’ve been playing well all year and in the playoffs, you have to play real good defense,” he said. “The teams that play best defense during the playoffs have the success.”
Moore mentioned last year’s 63-52 third round loss to Wallace Rose-Hill as a game that could’ve gone the other way if there was a little bit better defense played.
Offensively, aside from one interception in the end zone by Fairmont’s Xavier Covington, Northeastern was perfect in the first half on Friday, scoring touchdowns on the rest of its six possessions.
The Eagles marched down the field on three plays for their first possession, with a 14-yard run by sophomore Jerron Hinton, 28-yard run by quarterback Aaron Harris and 13-yard touchdown run from senior Tyquan Mercer just 93 seconds into the game.
A more methodical 13-play, 63-yard drive on Northeastern’s next turn finished with a Freshwater 10-yard run on fourth down. The Eagles ran the same exact play to earn two points and take a 14-0 lead nine minutes in.
Freshwater scored his second of three touchdowns on the night just a few minutes later with a 36-yard dash right up the middle. It gave Northeastern a 20-0 advantage late in the first quarter.
The East Carolina commit scored his third touchdown a couple possessions later with a game-long 57-yard run. He almost added another touchdown later in the second, but a 23-yard effort was stopped just one yard shy of the end zone.
Freshwater finished with nine carries for 158 rushing yards, all in the first half.
“We know he’s capable of doing that and it’s only the first round,” Moore said.
Sophomore fullback Quasi Thomas eventually ran the extra yard that Freshwater didn’t reach to put Northeastern up 40-0. It was his second touchdown of the game as he earlier scored on a 15-yard throw from Harris to make it 27-0 at the time.
Thomas had a lot of room around him for the score as Golden Tornado defenders bit on a fake handoff to Freshwater.
The Eagles took a 48-0 lead into halftime and Moore rested his starters for the duration of the second half’s running clock. It wasn’t until Waters scrambled for an 18-yard touchdown in the middle of the fourth that Fairmont was at least able to avoid getting shut out.
Northeastern’s 2018 postseason run will continue next week when it hosts No. 9 Beddingfield. The Bruins held off East Bladen 14-12 Friday on the road to advance to the second round.
“Always good to get a good win in the first round, so the kids’ confidence can keep up going forward.” Moore said.