One of the top middle school football rivalries in this part of the state took place on Thursday night, when the Southern Warriors traveled across town to bang heads with the Northern Maroons.

In the eighth grade contest, it was all Northern, as the home-standing Maroons rushed out to a 14-0 lead at the half, and never looked back en route to a 34-8 victory.

“It was a good win for our eighth grade, since it was our first conference game, not to mention against a cross-town rival in Southern,” noted Maroon head coach Joey Warren.

“Southern was a little short-handed tonight, so we tried to take advantage with different sets and formations,” Warren added. “Our passing game was on tonight, and that made everything much easier to execute.”

Northern grabbed a 6-0 lead in the first period, when Alex Abner fired a 48-yard slant pass to Brannen Wheeldon for the first score of the night.

In the second period, Warren’s club extended that lead to 14-0. Abner, this time, hooked up with Brandon Hines for a 36-yard touchdown pass, and on the two-point conversion, Northern headed into the half with a 14-0 cushion.

In the third period, Southern attempted to fight its way off the mat.

Caleb Trotter scored on a 60-yard touchdown scamper, and after Trotter tallied the two-point conversion, Dwight Engle’s club all of a sudden, was back in this one, trailing Northern 14-8.

However, at that juncture of the contest the Maroons responded.

Abner had a 56-yard run for a TD, Zack Eastham had an 18-yard pass to Hines for another score, and then the back breaker came when Steven McQueen intercepted a Southern pass, returning it 51 yards for another touchdown, closing out the scoring for the Maroons.

“Big plays killed us all night,” stated Dwight Engle after the game. “We played hard, but we just couldn’t contain (Alex) Abner.”

“The run by Abner in the third quarter, along with the interception return on the next series, really took the wind out of our sails, after we had cut the lead to 14-8,” added the Warrior head coach.

Abner led the way for the Maroons, throwing for 114 yards while rushing for 126 yards, in a big offensive night enjoyed by the Northern QB.

Brandon Hines meanwhile, led Northern with 101 yards in receiving, with 2 touchdowns on 3 catches.

Defensively, Northern was led by Steven McQueen, who had the interception return for a touchdown, as well as recovering an onsides kick.

Cody Patton had 4 tackles, while Mason Flynn had 5 tackles, with one of those going for a loss.

Southern meanwhile, got a big night from Trotter, who ran the ball 11 times for 71 yards, scoring the lone TD of the night for his club.

Justin Epperson had an interception, while Cody Epperson led the way with 8 tackles.

In the seventh grade contest, the it was all Southern, as Engle’s club gained the split for the night, with the Warriors posting a 14-0 win over Northern.

Dalton Marlow hooked up on a 15-yard scoring toss to Justin Epperson, while Cody Epperson also scored on a 5-yard TD run.

Trotter added the two-point conversion after the Epperson TD run, giving Engle and crew the 14-0 triumph.

“This was a big conference win for us over a very good team,” stated Engle. “Our players played very hard, and I’m very proud of their effort.”

Marlow had a good night through the air for Southern, going 3 for 3 in the game for 45 yards, to go along with his 1 touchdown pass.

Defensively, the Warriors got a solid team effort in Engle’s opinion, earning the shutout. Justin Epperson helped lead the way, coming up with an interception for the Warriors.

For the Maroons meanwhile, Warren stated it was just a night when his club ran up against a very superb football team.

“Southern was just bigger and more physical than we were, and we never stepped up and tried to challenge them,” lamented the Northern head coach. “I was really disappointed in our team effort.”

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