The Person High School JV football team found itself locked in a tight, defensive battle with Riverside throughout Thursday night’s game at home.
Down eight points in the fourth quarter, Person forced a pair of three-and-outs to give itself a chance at the win.
Two costly turnovers, however, prevented the Rockets from coming back in a 12-6 loss.
Person (1-1) muffed a punt with approximately three minutes left in the game, but its defense forced Riverside (2-1) to punt the ball away again.
Pirate defenders stripped the ball away from a Person running back to seal the win.
Person’s lone offsides penalty, which occurred on the Pirates’ (2-1) opening drive of the second half, set up the Pirates’ go-ahead and eventual game-winning score.
“We’re young,” Person head coach Justin Campbell said. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen, so they’re just getting used to handling adversity. They’ve got to get a little bit mentally tougher about the next play. Once they get that straightened out, we’re going to be very good.”
Campbell saw a lot of toughness early, particularly on the Rockets’ first on only scoring drive of the game.
With approximately two minutes left in the opening quarter, Hall scored on a 21-yard run in which he stiff-armed a defender, spun out of a tackle and darted towards the end zone.
Hall ended his night with a team-leading 81 yards on 16 carries.
“He kept moving his feet from the initial touch,” Campbell said of Hall. “Then when he saw the opportunity to spin out of a tackle, he did it. He’s an athlete. That was a time when he was a better athlete than everybody else out there.”
Riverside’s defense quickly adjusted after Person’s first-quarter score, only allowing five first downs and intercepting two passes.
The Pirates’ offense also came to life after Hall punched the ball in.
After only gaining seven yards on its first two drives of the game, Riverside tied the game at six on the second quarter’s first play, when Cole Schweitz caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Levi Gainey.
The Pirates went scoreless on their next two drives, but found the endzone on their first drive of the second half.
Schweitz capped off an 11-play, 72-yard drive when he caught his second touchdown of the game, a 14-yard strike, with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter.
“I guess they picked up on the rhythm we were trying to go with,” Campbell said of Riverside. “Football’s a game of adjustments. They just made the adjustments at the right time.”
The Rockets’ defense, even with allowing those two scores, played solid football throughout the night.
It held Riverside to 170 total yards, including just 32 on the ground.
Person also pitched a shutout in the opening and closing quarters.
“The biggest thing we (as coaches) preach is technique and reading your keys,” Campbell said. “Reading your keys is going to get you the ball. It’s up to you to make the play. My players were making those plays after adjusting their technique.”
The Rockets do not play again until Sept. 29, when they host Northwood for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The Chargers lost to Chapel Hill, 20-0, in their opener on Sept. 1.
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