ND Football v Strider

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

North Delta’s Jim Tom Copeland had this pass for a touchdown, but the Clyde Davis of Strider was able to break up the pass and stop a go-ahead score by the Green Wave. North Delta fell to Strider 14-12. The Panolian photo by Andy Young

Green Wave haunted by five turnovers in opening loss

By Brad Greer

Despite dominating every statistical category, North Delta could not win the battle where it counted the most, on the scoreboard.

The Green Wave outgained   visiting Strider Academy in total yards 245 to 94, but  the Rams had the final say so as quarterback Kelvin Newton dove in from four yards out for with the game-wining touchdown with 33 seconds before halftime to give the Rams a 14-12 victory in the season opener for both teams Friday night.

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“I am so proud of the way our kids played and stuck together as a team. Our defense was pushed to the limit numerous times but  came up with a big play when it counted,” said Rams head coach Cliff Pitts outside of a noisy lockerroom. “We really caught a few breaks when we really needed them and we took advantage of two of their mistakes. We gave them two turnovers deep in our territory and our defense came up big. Both teams really played hard, especially in the second half.”

The winning drive was set up by one of five Green Wave turnovers on the night as Cameron Cole recovered a Geri Lamm fumble on the Green Wave 20-yard line with 1:59 left in the half. After the Newton score, Matt Boug ran in the two- point conversion attempt to break a 12-12 tie.

North Delta had a pair of opportunities to take the lead in the third quarter but came up empty-handed on both occasions after fumbling   on the Ram 11 then turning the ball  over on downs on the Strider 18 with 10 seconds remaining in the quarter.

The Green Wave started in excellent field position to begin the fourth quarter when Michael Magee stripped Boug of the ball on the Ram 25-yard line. Following a holding call that pushed the ball back to the 34, quarterback Bateman Greenlee hooked up with Jim Tom Copeland for a 16-yard pass reception to the Strider 18, but the drive stalled on the 13 as Greenlee’s pass on fourth down fell incomplete.

North Delta had another chance to regain the lead when the Rams were forced to punt with 4:29 left in the game, but once again the drive came to an end at the Strider 33 when  tailback Tres Brasell  was stopped four yards short on a fourth-and-10 play.

After the game, Green Wave head coach Lance Thomas took full   responsibility for the loss.

“I  believe our kids played hard on both sides of the ball. We had some costly  mistakes and turnovers along with some holding penalties behind the play. We had sent in a play where the wide receiver gave the quarterback the wrong play. Effort-wise, our kids played their tails off, but as a head coach I’ve got to do a better job preparing my team. Put this loss on me,” said Thomas.

North Delta jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter by going on a impressive 12-play, 65-yard drive capped by a four-yard touchdown by Brasell with 24 seconds left in the quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 10-yard quarterback sneak by Greenlee on a third-and-2 call from the Wave 47.

Brasell busted off runs of 18 and 17 yards later in the drive before scoring on a toss sweep. Ryan King’s PAT was wide left.

The  Green Wave gift-wrapped Strider’s first touchdown of the night when Greenlee fumbled the exchange on the North Delta 7 yard-line. Three plays later, Newton plowed in from the one on third-and-goal at the 8:50 mark of the second quarter.

North Delta regained the lead on the first play from scrimmage when Lamm picked up a block from Copeland and raced 60 yards for the score. Ryan King’s two-point conversion run failed.

Lamm led all rushers with 119 yards on 14 carries and a fumble recovery on defense while Brasell followed with 74 yards on 14 totes in leading the Wave to 223 yards on the ground.

Greenlee meanwhile was 3-of-12 passing for 22 yards with one interception to go along with 21 yards on four carries. Copeland hauled in a pair of receptions for 24 yards.

North Delta registered 11 first downs in the game while holding the Rams to three. The Green Wave was  penalized 10 times for 90 yards while Strider was flagged five times for 45 yards.

North Delta will open up district play Friday night at Desoto, Ark. with a 7:30 kickoff.