Mundy’s Mill quarterback Rodricous Gates, No. 9, tries to avoid a tackle by a Northgate defender during the third quarter of the Tigers’ 27-10 win on Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Special Photo: Jerry Jackson).
HAMPTON — As the lights were starting to be turned off at Twelve Oaks Stadium, the Mundy’s Mill band played on.
The football players danced and smiled as the fans began to file out of the nearly dark stadium on a cold Friday night.
After the Tigers’ 27-10 win over Northgate in a Region 4-AAAAA play-in game, there was reason to celebrate.
Mundy’s Mill ended its long playoff drought with the win to clinch the No. 2 seed from the region in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.
It will be the program’s first playoff appearance since the 2007 season, and its six wins also represent the most since that season. Mundy’s Mill will carry a 6-4 record into the postseason after it avenged last year’s region play-in loss to Northgate.
“This is indescribable feeling,” Mundy’s Mill standout running back Rodney Smith said. “I’ve had a tough high school career, and we haven’t had a winning season since I’ve been here. I’m speechless. I’m just happy that our season will continue. We just want to play on.”
Leading 20-13 with 4:02 remaining in the contest, Mundy’s Mill defense recovered a fumble at its 47-yard line. The Tigers where just looking to run out the game by feeding Northgate a steady diet of Smith.
But the running back broke off a 30-yard run with 1:57 remaining to secure the win, its sixth straight on the season.
“I was really surprised with the run,” said Smith, who entered the game with 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns. “We were just trying to ice the game and get the win. I made a move and was in the second level. I just saw the daylight and wanted to score.”
It was Smith’s second touchdown of the game. The first came on the Tigers third possession of the game when Smith broke free on a 22-yard run to cap an eight-play drive to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:41 remaining in the first quarter.
The touchdown followed a 65-yard scoring run by Northgate freshman Ton Evans on the Vikings’ first possession of the game.
Mundy’s Mill would take the lead for good Dana Brown on a 34-yard punt return with 9:46 remaining in the third quarter. Northgate’s punter shanked the punt as Brown picked the ball up and went untouched for the score.
“We played sort of even-keel in first half as we tried to feel our way through the game,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said. “In the second half, we did what were were supposed to do. Our defense stepped up after we made some adjustments. The offense played well.”
Marquis Kempson scored on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Gates in the fourth quarter as Mundy’s Mill lead 20-13 with 6:02 remaining.
“This was an extremely special win for us,” Gates said. “I just can’t stop smiling. We beat the team we couldn’t beat last season. We are headed to the playoffs. This is really special for the team.”