Prep football -- Panthers rally past Blue Devils
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on September 5, 2004 2:01 AM
DEEP RUN -- Coming into Friday night's non-conference clash against South Lenoir, North Johnston had yet to score in the fourth quarter all year.
Down 16-0 with 12 minutes left to play, the Panthers broke their late-game scoring drought and put up 17 unanswered points for a 17-16 victory despite a season-high five fumbles.
Panther quarterback Brad Holloman broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run with one minute, 30 seconds left to play for the go-ahead score in a game riddled by penalties, dropped passes, and costly turnovers. The offensive juggernaut that totaled 89 points in the first two games was nowhere to be seen for three quarters.
"We played bad for a long time tonight," said North Johnston coach Ken Avent. "They were able to stuff us at the line of scrimmage."
After being blown out by East Carteret and Wallace Rose-Hill, the Blue Devils held North Johnston's running game in check in the first half by winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. South Lenoir's defense forced two fumbles and allowed just two first downs in the first two quarters of play.
North Johnston, which seldom threw the ball in its first two games, moved the chains via the air as Holloman completed seven-of-15 passes for 115 yards.
"They were good up front, finally in the second half we were able to spread our runs out some," said Avent.
North Johnston defenders were good up front themselves. A goal-line stand saw South Lenoir have first-and-goal situation at the two-yard line end three plays later with quarterback Paul Novicki being sacked at the three-yard line.
South Lenoir caught a break when Panther receiver Damien Allen fumbled the ball after catching a pass on third down as Novicki scooped up the loose ball and carried it 30 yards en route to an 8-0 Blue Devil lead. South Lenoir finished an eight-play, 55-yard drive when quarterback Brandon Rouse fired a pass to Jonathon Hernandez for 18 yards and a double digit lead at 16-0 going into the half.
After Andrew McArtan recovered a fumble in South Lenoir territory, Holloman ran in his first touchdown from 15 yards out as Adrian Briscoe added a two-point conversion to cut the lead in half at 16-8.
After a three-and-out for South Lenoir, North Johnston drove all the way down to the 18-yard line as Garrett Stancil split the uprights for a 29-yard field goal and a 16-11 deficit with 4:43 left to play.
"I was hesitant on kicking it there," said Avent after the game. "But I was tickled to death when he made it."
The Panthers breathed a sigh of relief when Hernandez, on a clear path to the end zone just 20 yards away, dropped a pass that hit off his chest on fourth-and-10 with 45 seconds left -- killing the Blue Devils' chances.
North Johnston (3-0) entertains West Johnston next Friday.
S. Lenoir 0 16 0 0 -- 16
N. Johnston 0 0 0 17 -- 17
SL -- Novicki 30 fumble recovery (pass good), 9:03.
SL -- Hernandez 18 pass from Rouse (Rouse pass from Novicki), 2:54.
NJ -- Holloman 15 run (Briscoe run), 10:53.
NJ -- Stancil 29 FG, 4:43.
NJ -- Holloman 40 run (pass failed), 1:30.
First Downs 14 11
Rushes-Yards 34-165 40-182
Passing Yards 115 96
Total Yards 280 278
Fumbles-lost 5-4 4-1
Punts-Avg. 3-30.3 3-31.2
Penalties 8-75 8-40
RUSHING -- South Lenoir -- Rouse 17-101; Hernandez 15-52; James 5-20; Novicki 3-9. North Johnston -- Adrian Briscoe 19-87; Brad Holloman 10-71; Tony Cooper 3-3; Jonathan Britt 2-4.
PASSING -- South Lenoir -- Novicki 1-3 32 yards; Rouse 3-14-0 64, TD. North Johnston -- Brad Holloman 7-15-1 115.
RECEIVING -- South Lenoir -- Hernandez 4-96, TD. North Johnston -- Michael Holland 2-23; Damian Allen 3-37; Josh Phillips 2-55.
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