Vikings aerial attack, defense carries the day against North Pitt
Kinston senior Jacel Jacobs; Photo by Scott Cole / Neuse News
BETHEL -- In its season opener last week, Kinston pulled off an amazing comeback win against Farmville. On Friday night, they didn’t have to resort to such theatrical football. Travelling to Bethel to take on the North Pitt Panthers, the Vikings fought for a 26-6 victory thanks to a solid defensive performance.
With the win, the Vikings improve to 2-0 on the season while the Panthers fall to 0-2.
However, the win left a lot to be desired. The Vikings had 120 yards in penalties with the Panthers committing 85 yards of infractions. Kinston was held to just 109 rushing yards and surrendered 10 sacks to the opposing defense.
“We’re both very aggressive teams. That’s going cost you some penalties at times,” North Pitt coach Gregory Watford said. “Sometimes you end up giving up a big play. For us, we lost our quarterback on the second play of the game. We had to start our JV quarterback.”
Defensively, the Vikings were very strong. They gave up on 62 yards of offense and did not give up any points. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, collecting sacks. And while they struggled on the ground, they had over 200 yards receiving.
“We have to get back to the fundamentals on offense this week,” Vikings coach Ryan Gieselman said. “They were tough on our front line tonight and frustrated us a lot. But we knew what they were bringing us and we prepared well, I thought. We just have to respond better.”
The Vikings started off hot. Jacel Jacobs took the ball across to midfield to the North Pitt 32. A few plays later, senior quarterback Kieren Hooker scrambled right and flipped a pass over to Josh Holloway, who shook off two defenders and stumbled into the end zone for the game’s first score.
After the score by the Vikings, the game descended into a tough defensive battle. Most runs were either stopped at the line of scrimmage or fell for loss of yards. The momentum was broken up when Shiqwuan Dixon intercepted the ball with 6:30 to go in the second.
The drive down the field was capped off when Hooker found Jacobs on a cross pattern up the middle. Jacobs bounced his way off a few defenders and found the end zone to give Kinston a 12-0 lead just before halftime.
“Early on, the offense struggled, but we made some adjustments in the second half and created some mismatches that worked,” Gieselman said.
Walt Simmons kicked off the third quarter with a fumble recovery to put the Vikings on the 32-yard line. Kinston drove down to the 2-yard line, backed up on a delay of game, and then turned the ball over on downs as the Panthers collected their seventh sack on Hooker to end the threat.
Later in the third, the Vikings faced a third and long but Hooker ran for 12 yards putting the Vikings on a long fourth-and-eight. Two hard calls later, the Panthers gifted Kinston a first down with a pair of offsides calls. Hooker made them pay for it when he found B.J. Luter in the end zone on a 33-yard reception to make it 19-0. Hooker would finish the night 14 for 27 with 205 yards passing and three touchdowns.
The Panthers finally struck back at the top of the fourth quarter. Hooker dropped back to look for a receiver and fired off a pass. Izarion Blango jumped ahead, snagged the pass and outran the Kinston players for a 43 yard pick-six. North Pitt then recovered an onsides kick to get the ball back on the 41 yard line. Three plays later, Mechaelin Davis intercepted the ball to end the rally.
“We hung on our defense tonight,” Gieselman said.”They put our offense in position to make plays the whole game. I’m proud of everything they did tonight. They shut down the other team. The only points that North Pitt scored was on offense, and that was my fault. I called that play.”
After the Panthers gifted another first down via another off sides to the Vikings, Kinston scored again. This time, Jacobs tore up the left side of the field for a 50-yard touchdown run.
“I read the blocks and trusted that the lead back (Justin Holloway) was going to block for me,” Jacobs said. “He led me to the promised land.”
The Cole Clutch Performer of the game was Jacobs. Jacobs scored two touchdowns and accounted for 131 of Kinston’s 314 total yards. His 72 receiving yards and 59 rushing yards led the team in both categories.
“This one took all of us to win tonight,” Jacobs said. “We all did the assignments we were given and carried it out.”
Kinston has a short week as they play Thursday night at home against Wilson Fike.
RUSHING: Kinston: Jacobs 2-59, Hooker 5-21, Holloway 8-9, Walters 3-7, Holmes 1-7, Whitfield 2-6, Pitts 1-0
North Pitt: Bradley 10-40, Jones 3-5, Blango 5-1, Harris 10-0, Johnson 1-0.
PASSING: Kinston: Hooker 14-27 205
North Pitt: 2-4 16
RECEIVING: Kinston: Jacobs 4-72, Pitts 2-48, Luter 3-33, Holloway 3-18, White 1-17, Whitfield 1- -3
North Pitt: Staton 2-16