The Good Hope Raiders offense struggled to keep pace in Friday night’s loss to the Northside Rams. (Preston Prewett for The Cullman Tribune)
NORTHPORT – Good Hope traveled to Tuscaloosa County to battle the Northside Rams and was met by a loud and hostile crowd. The Raiders fought hard but ended up being handed their first loss of the season, 42-27. The game was hard-hitting and penalty-ridden for the entire 48 minutes. Flags were being thrown on what seemed to be every single play. Tempers ran high on the field and in the stands.
Northside opened the game with a nice six-play, 68-yard drive to take the lead 7-0. Good Hope countered with a long, run-heavy, 17-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run by Colton Bagwell. At one point the drive was extended by a critical fourth-down encroachment call against the Rams. The extra point was not good, and the Raiders trailed by one (7-6).
The Rams didn't let the Raider score phase them as they came right back on the attack. They proceeded to march down the field on a 10-play, 62-yard touchdown drive to take the lead by 7. Northside really started showing some of its size with this drive as the run game opened up. On the kickoff, Northside executed a perfect onside kick and was able to get the recovery. Luckily the Raider defense stiffened up, stopping them for a three-and-out. The Rams’ punter got off a beautiful punt while the special teams downed the ball and stuffed Good Hope at its own 1-yard line. The Raider offense struggled to get the ball out and Matt Dixon was tackled in the end zone for the Northside safety, extending the lead to 16-6.
Northside continued to flex its muscle on the next possession as the Rams punched in another touchdown off an eight-play, 40-yard drive extending their lead to 23-6. This ended up being the final score of the first half as Good Hope just couldn't get much going on offense.
The Raiders received the ball to start the second half and managed to get a first down but ended up punting it away four plays later. Northside didn't fare any better on its first possession of the third quarter. The Rams’ defense found its way through the line of scrimmage twice, sacking Bailey Quick for 11- and 6-yard losses on the Raiders’ next outing.
Northside finally put together some offense and had a long 47-yard pass leading to another Ram touchdown and extended the lead to 29-6. Good Hope countered and was able to find its way with the bull running of Dixon (19 carries, 129 yards, three receptions, 37 yards, two touchdowns) as he capped off a 7-yard run with the touchdown to set the scoreboard to 29-13.
The fourth quarter was a penalty fest. It seemed like flags were flying after every play. The players were frustrated as well as the fans as boos could be heard echoing throughout the stadium. Throughout the flags, both teams were able to find the end zone several times.
Northside really started airing it out on its outing and found the end zone on an 8-yard wheel route to set the score at 37-13. Good Hope answered the air call as Quick (13-18, 92 yards in the air, two touchdowns) hit Dixon for a nice 7-yard touchdown strike. He backed it up with a nice toss over the middle to Isaiah Green for the 2-point conversion.
The Rams took it to the ground next with five straight run calls, but a big hit by the Raider defense caused a fumble allowing Dixon to recover and go 56 yards on the return. Two plays later Quick called his own number and scampered in for the 8-yard score, putting the Raiders within striking distance at 36-27.
Northside took over with three minutes left in the game and pounded the ball on the ground to grind out the clock. The Raider defense was tired and wasn't able to stop the Rams from punching it in the end zone to extend their lead to 42-27. This would be the final score of the game as Good Hope ran out of time.
The Raiders (5-1, 2-1) will look to bounce back into the win column next week when they host Haleyville in another big 4A, Region 5 matchup.
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