Northridge Knocks Bessemer City Out in Lolley’s 100th Victory
The Northridge Jaguars and Bessemer City Tigers met at Northridge High School Thursday with each team seeking its first win of the season. The game was originally schedule for Friday, but was moved up due to the threat of severe weather.
Northridge got the lopsided scoring event started early. The Jaguars took their opening possession down the field and found pay dirt. Foreshadowing the rest of the evening, Alabama offensive line commit Wilkin Formby and company paved the way for ground game and provided quarterback Rowdy Christensen all the time he could ask for to throw the ball.
He hit receiver TJ Banks on a screen who then snaked his way through 29 yards of defenders for the first score of the game. This was the first of what would be four touchdowns in a prolific performance from Banks.
Their next drive started at their own 29-yard line after the Jags sacked Bessemer City quarterback Christopher Whittsett on fourth down to end a long Tiger drive. Northridge marched quickly down the field again before Christensen connected with Banks again, this time from 20 yards out.
Bessemer City continued to have success running the ball on their second drive, but Whittsett was intercepted by Northridge senior Alex Wallace at his own 41-yard line. Christensen quickly found senior Kollyn Shelnutt and junior Nick Sherman on passes before closing the drive out with an over the shoulder ball to Banks in the back corner of the end zone.
Following another occurrence of the Tigers driving down the field and stalling out in Northridge territory, Northridge took over on their own 26-yard line. Christensen found senior Taylor Halperin for 24 yards and then found Banks for a fourth touchdown on a 50-yard bomb to put the Jaguars up 26-0 going into halftime.
Things didn’t get any better for the Tigers in the 3rd quarter. Their opening drive moved them from their own 22 up to their 37-yard line and the ensuing punt ended up rolling backwards to their own 33, where the Jaguars took over. However, the Tiger defense put together an impressive goal line stand to get the ball back.
Bessemer City punted from its own seven to their own 20-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Shelnutt took the ball into the endzone after reversing the entire field from the left sideline to the right corner of the endzone.
Bessemer City finally put points on the board on its next drive. The consistent utilization of the run game and quarterback draws allowed sophomore receiver Jayden Gilmore to get open in the middle of the field on a feigned quarterback keeper and take the ball into the end zone from 35 yards out after catching the pass.
On the following Northridge possession, the Jaguars grinded their way down the field slowly but surely behind the brute force of junior running back Tyson Whiteside. The drive resulted in a touchdown run from 12 yards out by Christensen to cap off a spectacular performance by the promising sophomore.
The final points of the evening were scored by Bessemer City on a 6-yard fourth and goal strike from Whittsett to senior JaCorian McIntyre. After a failed two-point conversion, the final score was 40-12.
The victory for the Northridge Jaguars marks Ryan Lolley’s first win as coach of the school as well as his 100thcareer victory.
“It’s exciting to reach something like that,” said Lolley. “At the end of the day, I’m not really responsible for any of those. I’ve coached a lot of great players and coached with a lot of great coaches and been good places.”
“The milestone really belongs to everybody that’s been a part of those wins.”
As for the game itself, Lolley was more than pleased, but still feels like there’s work to do in finishing the game strong and eliminating penalties and other mental errors.
Coach Antonio Nelson of Bessemer City felt that his team didn’t do enough to improve on giving up big plays. While the passing game got going in spurts, it was never consistent, and the run game consistently fizzled out before the team reached scoring territory.
“We just gotta get better,” said Nelson. “It starts at practice. You can’t win without it.”