By Doug Gorman
The North Clayton Eagles were their own worst enemy Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium in a Region 4-AAAA contest with Northgate.
The Eagles put their backs against the wall early in the first half with 75 yards in penalties and head coach Don Shockley's club never recovered, as Northgate opened region competition for both teams with a 12-3 victory.
Northgate improves to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the region. North Clayton falls to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in league play.
The loss left North Clayton still looking for its first victory of the season, and Shockley at a loss for words.
"I can't explain it," he said. "We had two weeks to prepare for them and thought we had a really good game plan in place."
It wasn't like Northgate was a scoring machine. The Vikings only generated 85 yards of total offense and six first downs.
North Clayton however only had two drives the entire night that went for positive yardage as it managed just 69 yards on eight first downs.
Northgate took advantage of decent field position and stellar play by the defense to take a 9-3 lead at the break.
The Vikings put together a 10-play, 60-yard scoring drive with 1:13 remaining in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Quarterback Charlie Beaucham took connected on a 3-yard pass to Neal Rodriquez for the first score of the night.
Poor field position to start the next drive spelled trouble again for North Clayton as it started at its own 9.
Two plays later, the Northgate defense busted through the line of scrimmage and forced a safety for a 9-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter the Eagles put together their best drive of the game. Starting on their own 31, Demarcus Flanagan ran over several big plays, including rushes of 13 and 23 yards eventually moving the team into the red zone.
North Clayton moved the ball down to the 2, but a 10-yard penalty again moved the team backyards. This time, they had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Shaka Bangura with 5:16 remaining.
It was the only points of the game for North Clayton.
In the second half, North Clayton again struggled to get the offense going and committed three straight turnovers to end its hopes of a comeback.
An 18-yard field goal by Northgate's Phillip Dillard was the only scoring in the second half.
North Clayton starting quarterback Ozier France left the game after getting injured in the third quarter and freshman backup Morgan Burnett made some things happen.
A couple of quarterback keepers by Burnett moved the ball down inside the 10, but it ended when he was intercepted.
North Clayton turned the ball over two more times, including inside its own 10 with less than a minute to go.
From there, Northgate ran out the clock.