GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Ajay Jones and Tate Ruth had a night as North Hall held off Chestatee, 28-21, Friday at War Eagle Stadium.
The dynamic duo accounted for all the teams' touchdowns and gave the War Eagle (1-5, 1-2 Region 8-4A) defense trouble most of the game.
The soft toss fly sweep (a forward pass) was the go-to play for the Trojan offense. Jones lined up in the slot position most of the night, and the Trojans (2-5, 2-3 Region 8-4A) took advantage of the cornerback miss match every chance they could.
“Outstanding; he’s [Jones] a playmaker. He has been making plays for us all year long,” said North Hall coach Sean Pender.
Jones finished the night with a school-record 10 receptions and 139 yards (3rd most receiving yards in the North Hall record books) and three TDs, one of which came off a hasty 68-yard jet sweep reception. Freshman quarterback Walker Davis posted a school-record 17 completions for 209 yards -- fourth best on the all-time single-game passing yards.
Ruth filled the role of the muscle back, rushing 24 times for 146 yards and a touchdown.
The Trojan defense played a big role in holding off a late Chestatee comeback attempt after the offense turned the ball over several times late in the game.
The War Eagle offense put up 437-yards but struggled to find the endzone.
The struggle reared its ugly head on Chestatee’s last two drives, where they had game-tying touchdown opportunities but ended up turning it over on downs.
A 9-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Adriel Vargas was called back for holding, and a well-defended pass to senior wide receiver Christian Jarrard (7-92 yards receiving) was batted away.
“Hats off to Chestatee, their boys played hard, and they got after it," Pender said.
The War Eagles recovered three fumbles, including one on North Hall's opening drive. Luis Jordan's recovery set the War Eagles up on the Trojan 43-yard line. Jason Granados later capped the drive with a 1-yard run with 6:26 to go in the quarter. It was the only turnover the War Eagles could turn into points.
North Hall answered on the next drive after a 50-yard kickoff return gave the Trojans the ball on the War Eagles' 44-yard line. Ajay Jones recorded his first of three receiving touchdowns on a 13-yard run to tie the game, 7-7, with 3:32 left in the opening quarter.
The touchdown set the Trojans on a 21-point run courtesy of a Tate Ruth 19-yard run and a 20-yard TD Jones reception on 4th down-and-4 to go up, 21-7.
The War Eagles put together a 75-yard scoring drive on the next drive. Josh Kermode hit Christian Vargas (2-56 receiving, 1 TD) down the seam for the touchdown to cut the lead to a TD, 21-14.
But Jones would strike again for the Trojans on the fly sweep. This time a 68-yard sprint to the endzone with 1:37 left in the half for a 28-14 lead.
Kermode finished the night 17-of 28 for 212 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for another 86 yards.
Chestatee held North Hall scoreless in the second half and had a few opportunities to score, including another fumble recovery on the North Hall 36-yard line, but the drive stalled on the Trojans' 12-yard line late in the third quarter.
The War Eagles did find the end zone with 6:34 to go. Adriel Vargas (12-75 rushing, TD) rushed 44 yards for the touchdown to bring the War Eagles within a TD, 28-21.
North Hall has next week off, and Chestatee travels to take on Cedar Shoals.