GAINESVILLE -- North Hall football talked all week of redemption and passion.
The Trojans showed plenty of both on Friday, fending off a determined West Hall 35-21 at The Brickyard in Gainesville.
The victory helped erase memories of last week's setback to White County and kept the Trojans in the thick of the Region 7-AAA title race.
"We didn't play perfect tonight, but we played hard from start to finish, and we made the big plays when we had to have them," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. "West Hall is a good team, and we knew it was going to be tough, but we did what we had to do."
Plenty of those big plays came from Trojans quarterback Andrew Smith, who rushed for 129 yards and three scores, including a 36-yard scamper with 1:11 to seal the win.
"Offensively we kept hitting them in the mouth in that second half," Smith said. "We did not want to let up and make a mistake."
West Hall made sure that the eighth-ranked Trojans (6-1, 4-1 Region 7-AAA) could not pull away, answering North Hall touchdowns with scores of their own in the second half -- including a 39-yard pass from Zach English to Hunter Atkinson to pull within 28-21 with 4:47 remaining.
The Spartans (5-3, 3-2) would not get the chance to make it a photo finish, however.
Taking the ball back, North Hall marched 80 yards to put the contest out of reach, including Smith's breakaway touchdown run, as the quarterback broke the line of scrimmage untouched before sprinting down the right sideline.
"I didn't expect that much room," Smith said. "They had been keying on me all game, and I think the guy that had been on me just ran past me and couldn't get an angle. It was a great call by our coaches."
Smith's night highlighted a 366-yard rushing performance for the Trojans, as Zac Little also carried 16 times for 83 yards, while Nolan Tucker added 61 yards and a score and Destin Bennett finished with 46 yards and a touchdown. Smith also completed two passes for 45 yards.
West Hall, meanwhile, put up 225 yards rushing of its own, as seven backs split duties