While the final score may not show it, the Daleville Warhawks left it all on the field on Oct. 16 against the Northside Methodist Knights but it wasn’t enough as the Knights would eventually pull away for a 48-14 win.
Northside was able to jump out ahead of Daleville 6-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run from running back Tyler Small and a missed PAT.
Daleville senior Sincere McKenzie then took things into his own hands on a dazzling 49-yard run that saw the speedster break six tackles on his way to Northside’s 1-yard line. Senior running back Cam Giles pounded his way into the end zone on the next play for a touchdown and then fellow senior Speedy Wiley converted a two-point try to give Daleville an 8-6 lead. That was the Warhawks’ first lead of the entire season.
On the ensuing possession, Northside drove down to the Daleville 14-yard line before sophomore defensive tackle Jeremiah Moore forced a Knight fumble and Giles covered it up.
With the Warhawks in business again, Daleville converted two first downs before losing 27 yards on back-to-back plays pushing Daleville back inside its own 10-yard line.
Northside then blocked the Warhawk punt and covered it up in the end zone to take back the lead 14-8 after a two-point conversion.
“Early on they jumped on us and scored on their first drive but we bounced right back and went down and had a big run from Sincere and we punched it in and scored and took the lead,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “We had a lot of momentum and I felt like we were playing pretty good but, like I said last week, Northside has a very high-powered offense and the longer our defense was on the field the more mistakes we made.”
After a 12-yard pass from senior quarterback Jordan McDonald to Wiley and a 21-yard run from McKenzie, Daleville had the ball right back in Northside territory as the second quarter began.
Unfortunately a holding penalty put Daleville in a third-and-long and ultimately the Warhawks turned the ball over on downs at the Northside 27-yard line. A few plays later, the Knights extended their lead to 21-8 on a 63-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cason Eubanks to receiver Marshall Parr.
After a Daleville three-and-out, Northside extended the lead to 28-8 on a 16-yard run from running back Tyler Grantham as it seemed like the Knights had successfully worn down the Warhawks.
After another Daleville punt, the Warhawk defense forced a turnover on downs and Daleville managed to drive up to midfield before time expired in the half.
McKenzie exploded as the third quarter began with a 34-yard run down to the Northside 13 and then cashed in on a 13-yard touchdown run. The two-point try was no good but the score cut Northside’s lead to 28-14 and seemed to give the Warhawks new life.
A Knight returner bobbled the ensuing kickoff and was corralled inside the Northside 15-yard line. After Moore dropped a Northside runner for a loss, McDonald seemed to be on his way to making a leaping interception at midfield, but unfortunately he twisted his knee on the way down and couldn’t hang on to the ball. Even worse for the Warhawks, though, the injury forced him out of the game.
After a pair of Daleville penalties, Northside got on the scoreboard again with a 60-yard scamper from Eubanks that seemed to take the air out of Warhawk Stadium. The PAT extended the Knight lead to 35-14.
Despite losing its quarterback, the Warhawks managed to drive right back down inside the Knight 13-yard line before turning the ball over on downs as the third quarter expired.
As the fourth quarter began, Daleville’s defense forced a three-and-out but a Warhawk fumble was scooped up by the Knights and returned for a touchdown. The Knights also returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown later in the fourth quarter. Daleville safety Colin Byrd blocked one of the two PATs keeping the score at 48-14.
“All in all, I felt like we were playing pretty good early on but they just wore us down as the game went on,” Lett said. “Then Jordan got hurt in the third quarter and wasn’t able to return and that limited our playbook because our backup quarterback isn’t as comfortable with the offense yet.”
Daleville posted up season highs in almost all offensive categories with 219 yards rushing and 254 total yards, while holding Northside’s high-powered offense to 310 total yards.
Lett said that he challenged his seniors last week.
“Coming into the game I challenged the seniors and told them that this was their last game they were ever going to play in that stadium. I asked them how they wanted that last game to be remembered,” Lett said. “I lit that fire into them all week last week and Sincere came to me and told me, ‘I’m going 100 percent the whole game. I don’t care how bad it gets or how good it gets, I’m going 100 percent.’
“He promised me that and he performed. He played big and he ran with everything he had and it was really good to see that from him.”
McKenzie had a career day recording 162 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, while also catching four passes for 23 yards and returning three kickoffs for 61 yards. McKenzie netted 246 all-purpose yards in the loss. He also recorded five tackles on defense, as well.
Wiley added 42 yards on 12 carries and also caught one pass for 12 yards and returned two kickoffs for 29 yards. McDonald completed 5-of-6 pass attempts for 35 yards and totaled four tackles, two pass breakups and a tackle-for-loss on defense.
Moore also recorded six tackles, a tackle-for-loss, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble on defense for the Warhawks, while linebacker Myles Parris had four tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry.
Eubanks led Northside with 100 yards and a touchdown on just four carries, while also completing 7-of-14 pass attempts for 108 yards and another touchdown.