Tarboro has put together some very impressive streaks during the past six years. Friday night the Southern Nash Firebirds came into Vikings Stadium and ended two six year streaks when they defeated the Vikings 24-23.
Tarboro (4-2) hadn't lost at home nor had they lost two non-conference games in the same season since 2007.
"You don' think about a streak when your in the middle of a season," Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock said. "The streaks were impressive, but at the end of the day we need to get better and that's what we have to do."
Tarboro was beat upfront on the line of scrimmage most of the night. Southern Nash found a way to beat Tarboro, just like their last loss at home in 2007. The Firebirds rewrote the script from that 2007 game and controlled the ball and the time of possession and forced Tarboro's defense to stay on the field for 19 of the 24 minutes in the first half.
"I think they beat us up front all night there's no question about that," Craddock said. "I knew their offensive line was good, big and strong. Everybody knows that. There's a reason they're undefeated and we're not."
Tarboro not only had a problem on the line of scrimmage, they couldn't find a way to stop the Firebird's rushing attack. Southern Nash ran the ball to the same side the majority of the night and ran off their left tackle to gain positive yards. They pounded out 300 yards of offense and Richard Hall had 120 of those yards.
Southern Nash's defense held the Vikings to just 201 yards. The Firebirds also held senior running back Radja Bobbitt to just 67 yards on 14 carries, which was his lowest totals of the season. Bobbitt did manage to score all three of the Vikings touchdowns, which gives him 17 for the season.
After giving up a score on the Firebirds' opening series, Tarboro answered right back. They put a 6-play, 65-yard drive together and Bobbitt capped it off with a 25-yard run. Franklin Arias added the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
On the Firebirds ensuing possession they burnt 10 minutes off the clock when they put a 18-play, 88-yard drive together. Hall scored from three yards out and gave Southern Nash a 14-7 lead.
Tarboro forced the Firebirds to punt with 39 second left before halftime. The punt went just six yards and gave Tarboro good field position at midfield. Tarboro changed their offensive scheme and went to the spread. It took three plays and 26 seconds for them to score. Tobias Pittman connected with Bobbitt from 35-yards out to give Bobbitt his second score. After an offsides penalty, Craddock decided to go for two. Bobbitt punched it in and Tarboro led 15-14 at halftime.
"We've had two weeks to prepare and we had things we worked on," Craddock said. "We had an opportunity to work on some of our stuff at the end of the first half. Tobias made a great play and we got one on the board, which was a big play for us."
Bobbitt fumbled with 4:43 left in the third and the Firebirds took advantage of it. Ismael Rodriguez kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Firebirds the lead back at 17-15 after the drive stalled at the 22-yard line.
Tarboro responded right back, putting a 13-play, 60-yard drive together and capped it off with Bobbitt 2-yard TD run. Bobbitt added the two-point conversion and Tarboro led 23-17 with 8:24 left in the game.
Southern Nash responded right back and marched right down the field like they had all night and scored with 2:06 left when Deon Lavender scored on a 1-yard run to give the Firebirds a 24-23 lead. The Firebirds got help from the Vikings before the score when they were called for having too many players on the field.
"We couldn't stop them anyway," Craddock said. "Every now and then we put together a little spurt where we would stop them. But we couldn't consistently get them off the field. Our personnel knew who was supposed to be out there so I don't know why we had that penalty called."
Tarboro had one last shot, but turned the ball over downs when Pittman tried to get the first down, but came up one yard short.
"When you come up short like this it is tough," Craddock said. "These guys will come back. People will hear a lot about Tarboro before the year is over. Phase one of our season is over and now we go to phase two which is conference opponents."
Before the game, Vikings Athletic Director Jamie Willoughby presented Craddock with a signed football for his 100th career win. He earned the win two weeks ago against Roanoke Rapids.
Tarboro is back at home Friday when they host South Creek in their inaugural debut in Two Rivers Conference action.