Tigers overcome 14-point deficit to top Indians
— To the surprise of most in attendance Friday night at Rising Sun, the team that entered on an 18-game losing streak was the dominant one early.
North East scored the first 14 points of the contest and led by that many at halftime. Using some key adjustments made in the locker room, Rising Sun shut the Indians out in the second half while scoring 28 points unanswered. The host Tigers came out with a 42-28 Susquehanna Division win.
“We were flatter than seven-dayold soda in the first half,” Rising Sun coach Rich Opp said. “I think in the second half, we showed up to play some football.”
North East built its 28-14 halftime lead behind a strong rushing attack, primarily using tosses to get to the outside. The Tigers adjusted.
“We made more adjustments defensively. Coach Opp made a great point with bringing the end out to cut off that sweep – that little toss play – that they were doing the
whole game,” Rising Sun quarterback Nate McCullough said. “It was a big defensive adjustment. That was the second game in a row we’ve shut a team out in the second half at home. That was big.
“Offensively, I just told the guys that we’ve got to win our battles up front, and if everybody wins their battles with the guy across from them, then we’re going to win the ball game in the second half.”
Rising Sun closed the gap to 28-21 midway through the third quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from McCullough to Cameron Billings.
The Tigers forced a punt on the ensuing Indians’ possession, which Billings returned to the North East 25-yard line. Jesse Herrera ran it in from that distance to knot the score at 28.
Rising Sun took its first lead of the night with 5:38 left in the game on a seven-yard touchdown run by junior running back Joe Jones, his second rushing score of the contest.
McCullough stuck a nail in the coffin just 37 seconds later, keeping it himself for a 19-yard rushing touchdown following a North East fumble.
“We have to take what we did and we have to learn from it, because we imploded. We should’ve beat that team. We had them, and we imploded. That comes with more experience and more coaching,” Indians coach Chris Schleich said. “The thing that kills us though was, we were beating them on the edges and they adjusted to take away the edges. We had to trap inside and the kids struggled inside blocking.”
Junior running back Taylor Danglade scored a pair of first-half touchdowns for North East. Sophomore Jalen Giles ran for a 57-yard score and caught a 39-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter from tight end Chase Hollister.
“My offensive coordinator was like ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘I think we got ‘em,” Schleich said of the trick play. “It was a good pitch-pass. We executed that well.”
Junior running back Maurice McCargo also found the end zone for the Tigers – a 20-yard run with 2:11 in the first half.
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig
Rising Sun senior Jacob Gehron (50) tackles North East sophomore Jalen Giles (21) during the Tigers’ 42-28 Susquehanna Division football victory Friday.