NORTH AUGUSTA 44, MIDLAND VALLEY 21
NORTH AUGUSTA — It was a heated battle in Friday night’s rivalry matchup between Midland Valley and North Augusta. The Yellow Jackets used some stifling second-half defense to hold the Mustangs scoreless in the final two quarters of the game and prevail with a 44-21 victory.
First-year head coach Brian Thomas said he challenged his team at halftime to step their game up after finishing the half in a 21-17 hole.
“The coaches made some great adjustments,” Thomas said. “They did a great job at halftime.”
The biggest adjustment was containing Midland Valley quarterback Daniel Carr. The junior signal caller made several big plays for the Mustangs in the first half to help them jump out front. But he was bottled up by the Yellow Jackets’ defense in the second half.
“He’s a great athlete. There’s no doubt about it,” Thomas said of Carr. “He made play after play after play with his feet. We just had to contain him … make him run around a little bit and get him in some negative yardage situations.”
Carr’s biggest highlight of the night came on a 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to make the lead 21-14.
Midland Valley head coach Rick Knight was also pleased with his star quarterback’s performance. However, he wasn’t as thrilled with some of the other aspects of the Mustangs’ game.
“Daniel’s the best player in the area. He was last year, and he is this year. I don’t care what anybody says,” Knight said after the game. “If he had a little more help, maybe up front … we’ve got to work on that.”
Carr finished the game 9-for-22 with 109 passing yards and a touchdown. He added 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He lost some major yardage falling on poor snaps that got past him.
“We played extremely hard; we just made too many mistakes to play with a team like North Augusta,” Knight said.
The Yellow Jackets came alive in the second half starting with a nine-yard touchdown run by quarterback Trib Reece in the third quarter. North Augusta then used the run game in the fourth quarter to extend the lead as Brandon Houston broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run. Reece later found Jaylon Patton and Bryton Smith on passing touchdowns to push the game to the final margin of 44-21.
Reece finished the game with 142 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-35 passing. He also threw two interceptions.
“The second half, we wore them down a little bit and started running the football,” Thomas said. “That started to make some more things happen and open up the passing game.
Houston led the way rushing for North Augusta. He carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Cam Matthews added eight carries and 47 yards.
The rivalry remained heated after the game when Thomas and Knight exchanged words near midfield during a handshake. The short-lived altercation prompted Knight to apologize when speaking to the media.
“First of all, I want to say I showed my butt out here after the game, and I want to apologize to everyone from North Augusta for that,” Knight said. “Just a heat of the moment type thing.”
Thomas said he understood that it was just Knight “fighting for his kids” like every coach does.
“There’s no problem.”
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @EricJ_Russell.
NA 7 10 7 20 — 44
MV 7 14 0 0 — 21
NA- Romero Lindley recovers fumble in end zone (Busby kick)
MV– Daniel Carr 3 run (McCord kick)
MV– Daniel Carr 23 pass to Stephon Morency (McCord kick)
NA– Reece 9 pass to Chandler Harrison (McCord kick)
MV– Daniel Carr 75 run (McCord kick)
NA - Blake Busby 37 field goal
NA – Reece 9 run (Busby kick)
NA – Brandon Houston 25 run (run no good)
NA – Reece 9 pass to Brayton Patton (Busby kick)
NA – Brandon Houston 14-95 2TD, Cam Matthews 8-47, Trib Reece 7-21 1TD, Mealer 2-7,
MV – Daniel Carr 18-95 2TD, Dre Carr 10-40, DreKwon Carr 10-16.
NA – Trib Reece12-35-142 3TD 2 INT
MV – Daniel Carr 9-22 109 1TD
NA – Blake Busby 5-56, Chaz Mealer 2-14, Cam Matthews 1-10, Chandler Harrison 1-9 TD, Jaylon Patton 2-35 1TD, Bryton Smith 1-18 1TD.
MV – Kameron Brown 3-25, AJ Mealing 2-17, Stephon Morency 3-44 1TD, Jaquan McCorkle 1-23.
NA – Romero Lindley 1-15, Aaron Maddox 1-0.
MV – Xavier Leaphart 1-0, Adrian Bremby 1-0.
Staff photo by Eric Russell North Augusta's Romero Lindley runs the ball after an interception in the second half of the Yellow Jackets victory over Midland Valley×
Photo by Joe Willis North Augusta running back Brandon Houston breaks a run to the outside against Midland Valley.×
Submitted Photo by Joe Willis North Augusta quarterback Trib Reece looks to pass while under pressure from Midland Valley defenders.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Xavier Leaphart runs the ball during Midland Valley's loss to North Augusta on Friday night.×
Staff Photo by Eric Russell Daniel Carr falls to the ground after being tackled during the Mustangs loss to North Augusta on Friday night.×