Mustangs finish 4-6 in 2012
Northport High (4-6, 1-5) got behind the eight-ball early at Entiat last Friday in a season-ending Northeast 1B (eight-man) crossover game, but the Mustangs picked up the pace in the final three quarters, overcoming a two-touchdown deficit to register a season-ending 30-28 win.
Northport High head coach Don Fox was proud of his kids for persevering and overcoming a big early deficit.
“They were kicking us,” Fox conceded. “I felt fortunate to win that game. But the kids hung in and I think that was probably our best defensive effort of the season. We made some great stops.”
Long bus ride
The game originally had been scheduled for a neutral site (Wilbur-Creston). But that site was nixed and the Mustangs were forced to make the approximately 10-hour round trip to Entiat last Friday afternoon.
“We were going to Wilbur-Creston to play the game, but District 6 told us the agreement was that we go to Entiat. There was that and the fact that we were missing a couple of kids. It all might have added up to the slow start, I don’t know.”
Entiat scored a pair of first quarter touchdowns to take an early 16-0 lead.
The hosts went 73 yards in six plays early in the first quarter for an 8-0 lead. A 60-yard pass and run play from quarterback Tran Trang to receiver John Harn in the flat got Entiat on the board. The TD pass came on second and 14.
“Our defender went for the ball (interception) there and their kid made a great catch,” Fox said.
Northport turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, and Entiat, starting on its own 48 yard-line, went to work. Trang hit Harn again on a long pass and run play that carried to the NHS eight-yard-line. Two plays later, Trang dove in from two yards out. Another successful two-point PAT and Entiat led 16-0.
On its ensuing possession, Northport quarterback Jeremiah Johnson was intercepted deep in Mustang territory. But the Northport defense came up big, picking up a safety to get the visitors on the board.
Northport caught fire in the second quarter behind Johnson. Following the safety, Northport, starting at its own 38, put together a 12-play scoring drive that was capped when tailback Ben Short raced 18 yards for a touchdown on a sweep.
Short’s pass from Johnson on the two-point PAT cut Entiat’s lead to 16-10.
Northport’s defense came up big again when Johnson intercepted Trang.
But Trang and the Entiat offense kept the pressure on Northport’s defense, scoring from 31 yards out on a Trang four-yard run. The two-point PAT run failed and Entiat led 22-10.
But Johnson ran back the ensuing Entiat kickoff 46 yards and the Mustangs were in business. A couple of key pass completions by Johnson, along with an Entiat pass interference penalty, set Northport up for a five-yard Johnson to Dylan Masters scoring strike. The two-point PAT pass was no good and NHS trailed 22-16 at halftime.
The third quarter was a frustrating one for Fox and his kids. Northport drove into the Red Zone on three occasions in the third quarter and came up empty. On two occasions, NHS fumbled the ball away inside the Entiat 20 yard-line.
But NHS managed the only touchdown of the third quarter when Masters caught a three-yard scoring pass from Johnson. The two-point PAT run failed, but the visitors had drawn even at 22-22.
“We could have blown the game open in the third quarter,” Fox said. “We were a little frustrated that we couldn’t finish.”
Johnson punt return for a fourth quarter TD
In the fourth quarter, Johnson turned in the game winner when he returned an Entiat punt 40 yards to the house. Johnson got key blocks on the TD run from Short and Masters.
The Johnson to Masters two-point PAT was good and NHS led 30-22.
Entiat answered in short order. Running out of an eight-man Wing-T hybrid, Trang led the hosts on a seven play, 90-yard drive. Trang capped the drive with a six-yard scoring run.
But on the two-point conversion that would have tied the game, Short, on a blitz, dropped Trang as he attempted to pass.
Johnson and the Mustangs were able to run out the clock late and secure the road win.
Johnson rushed for 190 yards and passed for another 121.
Masters caught nine passes for 95 yards.
Defensively, Short recorded eight unassisted tackles from his linebacker position. The junior also had three quarterback sacks and six assisted tackles.
Lineman Jared Brodahl was in on 14 tackles. The 5-6, 155-pounder also had a quarterback sack.
Masters had eight tackles and an interception. Johnson was in on 11 tackles.
Fox also praised 6-3, 250-pound senior lineman Tyler Brunette for anchoring the team up front this fall.
“Tyler has blocked well most of the season,” Fox said. “He has been a mainstay up front for us.”
Fox knows the Mustangs will have to try and replace some key seniors next fall. The NHS roster includes eight seniors and some key contributors.
“There could be some numbers issues next fall,” Fox conceded. “We don’t have the kids or the feeder program. But as long as we have 12 kids who want to play, we will play football.”
When Northport decided to resurrect its long dormant high school football program three seasons ago and tabbed Fox to get it all going again, the veteran coach jumped at the opportunity. Fox, assisted by his son Shane, led the Mustangs to an 11-29 record in those three seasons. Northport was 6-5 last season and made the playoffs.
“It has been a great experience,” Fox, in his 38th year of coaching, said on Sunday. “Working with kids keeps you young…and it’s not like there were great expectations when we got this going again.”
NHS 2 14 6 8— 30
EHS 16 6 0 6—28
EHS—Harn 60 yd. pass from Trang (Trang run)
EHS—Trang 2 yd. run (Trang run)
NHS—Short 18 yd. run (Short pass from Johnson)
EHS-_Trang 4 yd. run (run failed)
NHS—Masters 5 yd. pass from Johnson (pass failed)
NHS—Masters 3 yd. pass from Johnson (run failed)
NHS—Johnson 40 yd. punt return (Masters pass from Johnson)
EHS—Trang 6 yd. run (pass failed)