By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Had it been a heavyweight fight, a white towel might have come flying from the Tri-Cities sideline on Friday after the first quarter on Friday at Henry Seldon Field.
In its third consecutive Region 5-6A win, Northgate had its opponent in trouble from minute one en route to a 44-28 victory that allowed the Vikings to maintain control of their playoff destiny with two games to play.
Looking energized after a bye week, Northgate steamrolled Tri-Cities in the opening quarter, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions and adding a safety in between to take a commanding 30-0 lead.
It created too large a buffer for the Bulldogs, who tried to chip away with two scores in the second quarter and two more in the final 7:25 of play, all on touchdown throws from Delorenzo Dixon, who managed to extend plays long enough at times to find teammates.
“Great start. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Northgate head coach Mike McDonald said. “They’re good at broken plays and making things happen and that’s what we worried about. They made some. We came out and played great early.”
Improving to 4-2, the Vikings remained tied with Mays for third place in the region, two games behind idle Douglas County (6-0) and one behind Creekside (4-1), though with an additional head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seminoles.
With an opportunity to put a winless Tri-Cities team away early, Northgate didn’t waste any time on Senior Night, taking the opening kickoff 73 yards on 7 plays for the first of senior Cameron Cruver’s four touchdown runs.
Tri-Cities (0-7, 0-6) had to wait until 10:12 remaining in the first half before coming up with its initial first down of the game.
Once the Bulldogs got moving, their comeback efforts were equally hampered by five penalties, a majority of which came on plays that were poised to move the chains.
After forcing an initial Tri-Cities punt on a three-and-out, Northgate repeated the process, this time on a quick 46-yard march over five plays for another Cruver score and a 14-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
Just eight seconds later, the Vikings’ defense was in the end zone after a botched Tri-Cities play forced the Bulldogs to take a safety. The ensuing free kick also produced a scoring drive of
yards that ended when quarterback Isaac Corbitt found Jay McKenzie alone in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.
Northgate’s defense set up another score on Dillon Wade’s 35-yard interception return that was ruled out-of-bounds at Tri-Cities’ goal line, setting up Cruver’s second score that ended a 30-point opening quarter.
McKenzie added his second touchdown late in the second quarter on a 12-yard run off right end with Cruver springing his teammate on a lead block followed by one from senior guard Will Sachs.
A 37-14 halftime lead held until the final seconds of the third when Cruver barrelled in from five-yards out to close Northgate’s scoring.