Another magical Knight
Sat. November 17, 2012 at 12:12 a.m. | By Mike Duprez
North Davidson's Hunter Hoots blocks a field goal attempt by Mount Tabor kicker Billy Gentry during their game Friday night. (Photo by Donnie Roberts/The Dispatch)
WELCOME | Tears were forming around the rims of North Davidson coach Mark Holcomb’s eyes — tears of joy — as the North Davidson coach took it all in amidst all the bedlam around him on Palmer Field.
And no wonder.
Devonte Moore and Shy Tuttle each ran for touchdowns, Spencer Landfried kicked two field goals and linebacker Hunter Hoots made play after play as the undefeated Black Knights emerged with a grueling 20-14 victory over Central Piedmont Conference rival Mount Tabor in the third round of the 4-A state playoffs Friday night.
The Knights (14-0) will host Porter Ridge, a 28-21 winner over Sun Valley, in the semifinals next Friday.
“It’s awesome,” Holcomb said. “Graduating from here, growing up here. It’s awesome.”
Let it sink in — North is two wins from a state championship.
“It’s awesome,” said Hoots, who blocked a game-tying field goal attempt, recovered two fumbles and had two sacks on Mount Tabor’s last possession. “It’s a dream come true for us. We’ve been working for this since summer. It doesn’t get better than this.”
It took a gritty defensive stand inside the 10 to keep North’s season going.
The Spartans’ Dishan Beasley had returned a Chase Mitchell punt 21 yards to the North 31 as the Knights were clinging to a 20-14 lead in the fourth quarter. On fourth and inches from the 9, quarterback Raekwon Brown tried a sneak but was swallowed up in the middle of the North line for no gain with 6:37 left.
“We were just fighting all week,” Shy Tuttle said. “Every week.”
Mount Tabor (7-6) had one more chance in the waning minutes but Brown was buried by Hoots and company.
“Our kids fought hard,” said Mount Tabor coach Laymarr Marshall, who was livid about the spot on the fourth down play. “Nobody thought we would get this far. Of course we had to come down here and play a good football team and the officials.”
Both teams were successful moving the ball early on but by the end of the first half it was grinding down into a defensive slugfest. Landfried’s 48-yard field goal on the last play of the first half broke a 14-14 tie.
Mount Tabor was in prime position to tie the game or take the lead when Beasley intercepted a Mitchell pass at the North 31 midway through the third quarter. But the Knights held firm when Hoots broke through and blocked Billy Gentry’s 27-yard field goal attempt.
“I think they said to not try to block it,” Hoots said. “But I jumped the snap, got in there and I just went for it.”
The Knights dodged another bullet later in the quarter when Beasley picked off a Mitchell pass near the goal line, but then fumbled and North lineman Jadd Smith recovered. The whole play ended up being nullified because North had an ineligible receiver downfield. Mount Tabor took the penalty and Landfried ended up kicking a 22-yard field goal, making it 20-14 with 1:53 left in the third period.
The Spartans completed a 49-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage and took a 7-0 lead on Jared Huntley’s 2-yard touchdown run with 9:53 remaining in the first quarter.
North came right back and tied it up on Devonte Moore’s 37-yard touchdown jaunt.
The Knights went ahead on the 6-3, 290-pound Tuttle’s 3-yard run with 9:21 left in the half. A personal foul for a late hit and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Marshall helped get North in position to finish off the 11-play, 67-yard drive.
A dramatic sequence of events gave Mount Tabor some momentum late in the half. Landfried was set to try a 46-yard field goal with just over four minutes left in the half but the Knights went for the fake. Holder Spencer Arrowood made an option-like pitch to Landfried, who gained two yards but was knocked out of bounds two yards shy of a first down.
On the very next play, Brown connected with Deonte Stokes on a 73-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 14-14 with 3:49 left in the half.
Notes: Mitchell was 12-for-21 for 101 yards and punted five times for a 46.1 yard average … Moore had 125 yards on 23 carries … Stokes caught five passes for 164 yards.
Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.