Magna Vista running back Jacquez Hairston (center) goes for a 31-yard gain in the third quarter of the Warriors’ 19-7 3A quarterfinal loss to Northside on Friday in Roanoke. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
The big play, which eluded the Northside Vikings in the first half of Friday’s 3A quarterfinal high school football game against Magna Vista, became more plentiful in the second half leading to a 19-7 Vikings victory at Jim Hickam Field in Roanoke.
The loss not only ended the Warriors’ 10-game winning streak dating back to Sept. 13, but also ended their season. Magna Vista — who adopted the moto of being “road Warriors” — also lost its first game of the season on the road after winning its first six.
The win for the Vikings was their ninth consecutive win at home after going undefeated in the regular season.
The Warriors’ season was defined by hard-nosed defense, but it was Northside’s defensive front that constantly harassed Magna Vista quarterback Shoalin McGuire. The Warriors’ passing game was anemic, mustering just 37 yards through the air with a touchdown and an interception. McGuire was just 9-of-16 passing and went the entire first half without completing a pass (0-for-9).
“They did a good job of covering people up,” Favero said. “The windows tonight were probably the smallest he has had to throw into. Their defensive backs did a good job and they brought pressure up front especially in the middle.”
Allowing an average of just 11 points per game this season, the Vikings held Magna Vista’s offensive attack to just 136 yards of total offense and seven points, while forcing seven three-and-outs (five in the first half). Magna Vista’s first six drives of the game resulted in three-and-out’s and its first first down of the game came late in the second quarter on a Bryce Hankins 23-yard run. That drive however, ended with a turnover on downs at the Northside 29-yard line.
“A stifling defense — that’s the personality Jim Hickam developed here before I took this job,” Northside head coach Burt Torrence said. “It’s carried over and that’s what we believe in, defense first. Our philosophy is if we get three scores we have a chance to win the football game.”
For as well as the Vikings defense played in the game, the team’s offense only put up seven points (a Dominic Dunnaville to Tra’ Jackson 32-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter) in the first half. It then started to make plays midway through the third quarter, effectively opening up enough separation. The Vikings’ spread attack was efficient with dual-threat quarterback Dunnaville and a variety of other playmakers at the skill positions. Dunnaville led the game in total offense with 246 yards (152 passing, 94 rushing) and also in total touchdowns (2).
With the scored tied 7-7, Northside scored on its second possession following Magna Vista’s only touchdown of the game. The four-play drive was set up by a diving Ben Plunkett — a player who had broken his collarbone just a year ago — catch for 37 yards. The drive was capped two plays later on a Sam Krizner nine-yard touchdown run. The Vikings struck quickly on their next possession to take a two-possession lead, as Dunnaville hit Harold Buckner III down the seam for a 61-yard touchdown on the second play of the drive. It was the exact same play Buckner dropped in the first half which would’ve been a touchdown.
“Those are two big seniors for us,” Torrence said of Plunkett and Buckner. “Plunkett stayed with us and stayed committed to the program. He was voted the captain of the team.”
The Plunkett and Buckner catches were two huge plays that shifted the momentum to the Vikings for the rest of the game. Northside didn’t make those plays in the first half, but capitalized on them in the second 24 minutes while the defense did the rest.
In what Favero called “the worst half of football” his team has played all season, the Warriors were well within striking distance at the half, down only seven.
Sophomore running back Jacquez Hairston got the Magna Vista fans excited when he carried the ball for the Warriors’ biggest gain night — a 31-yard scamper to the Northside 10 -yard line to convert a fourth-and-3. It was the Warriors’ only fourth-down conversion of the game, going 0-for-3 on their other attempts.
McGuire then hit George Ramey three plays later on an eight-yard TD pass to the back of the end zone as McGuire was flushed out of the pocket. It was the longest drive of the night for Magna Vista.
The Warriors were held to six first downs to the Vikings’ 15. Krizner and Dunnaville combined for 191 yards rushing on 47 carries, outgaining Magna Vista with their legs alone by 55 yards.
Northside 19, Magna Vista 7
NHS 0 7 6 6 — 19
MVHS 0 0 7 0 — 7
NHS — D. Dunnaville 32-yard pass to T. Jackson (Z. Large kick), 1:33
MVHS — S. McGuire 8-yard pass to G. Ramey (K. Johnson kick), 5:57
NHS — S. Krizner 9-yard rush (Z. Large kick failed), 1:00
NHS — D. Dunnaville 61-yard pass to H. Buckner III (2-point conversion failed), 11:02
Rushing — NHS: S. Krizner 28-97 TD, D. Dunnaville 19-94, E. Johnson 1-2, T. Jackson 1-2; MVHS: Jac. Hairston 7-46, S. McGuire 14-33, Bry. Hankins 5-25, D. Thomas 1-(-5).
Passing — NHS: D. Dunnaville 5-8, 152, 2 TD; MVHS: S. McGuire 9-16, 37, TD, INT.
Receiving — NHS: H. Buckner III 1-61 TD, B. Plunkett 1-37, T. Jackson 1-32 TD, S. Krizner 2-22; MVHS: G. Ramey 3-21 TD, Bre. Hankins 3-14, R. Gravely 1-4, Bry. Hankins 2-(-2).