Northside beats Dacula for state title berth

Northside scored first. Dacula scored last.

In between it was all about the Eagles’ defense. Six times they forced the Falcons to punt. Even bigger was the stop they made on a fourth-and-goal from the two with about eight minutes left in the ballgame. Add in a Tubby McCall interception in the redzone a couple of minutes later – one of two picks; the other belonging to Mason Ford in the first quarter – and you’ve got a 14-7 win and a trip to the GHSA Class AAAAAA state championship game.

Northside will play Lee County, which beat Lanier 42-7 (and the pre-postseason, five-game winning streak Eagles 24-7). That game is set for Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. in Mercedes-Benz Stadium (moved due to the MLS championship).

Both started the game with a punt – Northside first, then Dacula. The difference worked in the Eagles’ favor as they started their second drive from the Falcons’ 44. That also set up their first score. It unfolded into a 12-play, one-yard touchdown run by Eric Smith – even two holding penalties couldn’t prevent it. Cory Munson made the point after and less than three minutes gone, it was 7-0.

Ford’s interception followed that. That gave Northside the ball on the host’s 18 where four plays later quarterback Jadin Daniels broke off the left side for a four-yard touchdown run. Munson made it 14-0. That came with just over a minute showing on the clock and ushered in the second quarter.

It was battled back-and-forth, both picking up a first down here and there, but both eventually punting; the only exception was a pick off a Northside pass, but the Eagles’ defense negated it from any damage.

The Falcons received the ball to start the third quarter. They moved it into Northside territory but … see six times … punt. The Eagles were forced to do the same on their initial possession, but on their second did move it close enough for Munson to attempt but miss a 42-yard field goal.

That led to the aforementioned heroics – the stop, which by the way negated more than four minutes of offense, and the interception. Dacula, which came in on the heels of a 10-game winning streak and an 11-2 record, finally did score with just inside three minutes left to play. It was on a two-yard run from Jarrett Jenkins that finished off an eight-play drive – also aided by a pass interference.

Following that, the Eagles took the on-side kickoff attempt at their own 49, made a first down and ran out the clock for the win.