Northeast Lauderdale kept the ball on the ground Friday night and didn’t let up.
The Trojans made the most of two dominant running backs — and their quarterback — to rush for 340 yards and defeat county rival Southeast Lauderdale 38-7 on the road for their first win of the season.
“It’s some relief, it really is,” Northeast Lauderdale head coach Glen Sanders said. “We really felt like we had a chance to jump out to 2-0 and it didn’t happen, so you bet this is a relief.”
The Trojans earned all five of their touchdowns on the ground. Mike McClinton ran the ball in from 10 yards out on Northeast’s first possession before Jaheim Smith scored on back-to-back drives, from 18 and 4 yards out. After Chap Pope hit a 26-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter, Northeast led 24-0 at halftime and held Southeast to minus 14 yards of total offense.
The Tigers picked up their only points of the night early in the third quarter when they recovered a McClinton fumble at the opposing 43-yard line and scored six plays later when quarterback Travis Ruttley scrambled to the right and found Travis Moore in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass to cut their deficit to 17.
Southeast couldn’t swing momentum, however, as Northeast followed with a quick drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run from quarterback Chris Hardy on a QB sneak on third down. Smith then ran in a 17-yard touchdown on the Trojans ensuing possession for his third touchdown of the game to go along with 126 yards on 14 carries.
Mike McClinton earned 158 yards on the ground on 18 carries, and Hardy ran for 27 yards on seven carries and completed one 12-yard pass to McClinton off four attempts for Northeast (1-2).
“It seemed they were keying on me and Jaheim, and even though they were on us, we still had to power through and stay relentless and keep coming back,” McClinton said. “I feel a whole lot better now. We’ve gotten our bearings and are staying ready to do what we’ve got to do.”
Southeast (0-3) finished with 103 total yards on offense. Ruttley went 3-for-6 in the air for 75 yards and ran for 20 on four carries. Moore caught three passes for 74 yards.
“Coach Sanders did a good job mixing things up offensively. They just ran down our throats,” Southeast head coach Calvin Hampton said. “We weren’t able to come back off our errors. We’ll go back to the drawing board, roll our sleeves up and get back to work.”
While Hampton is still looking for his first win as head coach of Southeast, Sanders earned his first victory as head coach of Northeast.
“It was just a team effort offensively, but defensively our guys played super,” Sanders said. “They played lights out, and I’m really proud of the effort we got.
The Trojans are back home next week against Jackson Academy (1-2), while the Tigers play Newton County (2-1) on the road.