By VAN HOLLAND
Turnovers and penalties nearly caused the Tarboro Vikings their second win of the season Friday night against the Northern Nash Knights. Between the two teams there were a total of 22 penalties and four turnovers.
Tarboro was able to take the momentum in a 21-second span and turn the game around to win 21-7.
Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties began piling up throughout the game and the officials stopped the game in the fourth quarter to talk with both coaches about settling their teams down. The penalties hurt Tarboro (2-1) more-so then Northern Nash (0-3).
"Those type of penalties absolutely make me sick," Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. "I preach to them all the time, don't get caught up in that mess because we are better than that. It all falls back to guys having a little lack of discipline which is not a reflection of how we try to do it at Tarboro."
Craddock addressed his players numerous times on the sidelines about their unsportsmanlike conduct and for him to see it happen again and again made it even more frustrating for him as the game went on.
"Football is an emotional game, but you can't hurt your team because you can't control you temper." Craddock said. "I am going to address it again this week about those types of penalties and it will be taken care of."
Tarboro trailed after Northern Nash's open drive went 80 yards on 16 plays. The Knights had help from their opponents on the drive and that is when everything started with the unsportsmanlike conduct outbursts.
The Knights were facing a third-and-13 from their own 41-yard line. Tarboro stopped the Knights and forced a fourth down situation, but Tarboro was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which gave the Knights a first down. From that point, the Knights took advantage and capped it off with a Jaquez Howington one-yard touchdown run. The Knights added the extra point and led 7-0.
"We weren't ready on that first drive because it was us that gave it to them," Craddock said. "You can't give them a fourth and 12 and then we had a 15-yard penalty that gave them a first down. It's very frustrating to watch because I know they have been coached to do the right things."
Tarboro was unable to get anything going offensively in the first half, until their final drive. Tarboro started from their own 20-yard line and put a 16-play drive together. Facing a fourth and goal, Tarboro called a timeout with nine seconds left. They spread the field out and called a reverse play and they lost 16 yards and ended the half trailing 7-0.
Something changed at halftime, because Tarboro came out and ran their offense right down the Knights back. They put a nine play drive together on their first possession and capped it off with one-yard TD run by Radja Bobbitt.
'We put a great drive together to start the second half and capped it off with a nice score," Craddock said. "We had some great drives early on, but we just didn't finish."
On the ensuing kickoff, Northern Nash fumbled the ball and Viking Keithion Battle recovered the ball at the Knights' 38-yard line. It took one play and Rayshawn Battle found the end zone from 38-yards out to give the Vikings a 12-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Knights fumbled again and Tarboro regained possession. In a 21 second span, Northern Nash committed two turnovers and Tarboro was sitting in excellent field position again.
"I am very proud of the way we came out in the second half because we didn't get discouraged and turned things in our favor," Craddock said. "We're a work in progress and to see them come out and believe in themselves showed a lot."
After a 10-play drive that started at the Knights 42-yard line, it was stalled on a fourth-and-goal situation and Tarboro turned the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing Northern Nash possession, Tarboro's defense forced the Knights to punt on a four and out situation. A high snap forced the punter to fall on the ball in the end zone and gave Tarboro a safety and a 14-7 lead.
After Tarboro received the punt, Rayshawn Battle had his number called again and he dashed 54 yards to the Knights two-yard line. Bobbitt punched it in on the next play for his second TD of the game. Freshman Dawson Harris added the extra point try to give Tarboro a 21-7 lead.
Craddock and the Vikings sideline were fired up after the score. He told the defense to force another stop. They responded and got their offense the ball back.
"The defense tightened up and played well for two and half quarters," Craddock said. "We are starting to show glimpses of what we will become, but we aren't there yet."
Tarboro will travel to Pinetops to face county rival SOuthWest Edgecombe at 7:30 p.m. Friday.