Flames lose preseason game to Perry

Northgate’s Eric Hogan sprints down field during Northgate’s preseason loss to the Perry Commodores last Saturday. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By MEL PERKINS

The Northgate Flames hosted the Commodores from Perry High School last Saturday in what has come to be known as the “week zero” game. The Flames fell to the Commodores by the score 22 – 7 in a contest that is commonly thought of as a preseason game.

Perry kicked off to start the game, and the Flames quickly tried to establish the run game. Christian Davin handed off to Anthony Barbarino to get things started.A Davin pass fell incomplete and on third down Barbarino was stopped with no gain, and Northgate was forced to punt.

Perry started the series on their own 30-yard line, and they picked up three first downs, crossing mid-field to the Northgate 25. Looking at a third down and 5, Northgate’s Dylan White picked off a Commodore pass and the Flames had the ball on their 19-yard line.
Again, the Northgate offense sputtered, and the Flames were forced to punt.

After Heman Darjee’s punt the Commodores managed to get their run game clicking and used five plays to go 73 yards and score a TD with 4:02 left in the first quarter. Perry failed on their two-point conversion, but took a 6 – 0 lead, a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

The second quarter started with the Commodores driving, and on the first play of the quarter, with the clock at 11:43, Perry scored their second TD. The two-point conversion was good, and the Commodores had a 14 – 0 lead.

Northgate’s next series ended with a Darjee punt, and the Flame defense ended the Commodores’ series just before they could score when Eric Hogan fell on a loose ball at the Northgate 5-yard line.

Looking at 1st-and-10 from their own 5-yard line, Davin connected with Hogan, who caught the pass on the Flames’ 25-yard line and raced 70 yards before stepping out of bounds on the Perry 5-yard line. Coach Michael Fulmore said later, “We definitely want to recognize our ball players and those kids that are capable of making plays, and try to get them in the best possible situations.”

On 1st-and-goal from the 5, Dre Allen got the call and he powered forward to the 2-yard line. Perry jumped offsides on the next two plays and the Flames were looking at a second and less than a yard. But, a Northgate TD was not in the cards, the Flames lost their handle on the ball and Perry recovered it on their 4-yard line.

The Northgate defense rose to the occasion though, and on the next play, Nate O’Mara tackled the Commodores’ running back in the end zone for a safety with 3:51 left in the half. The Flames were on the board, down 14 – 2.

Perry kicked to the Flames following the safety, and Hogan returned the ball 35 yards to the Perry 20-yard line. E.J. Williams got in on the action, taking a hand-off and catching a pass from Davin for 4 yards. Then, Barbarino carried twice to put the Flames on the Commodores’ 5-yard line. Allen got the call after a delay of game call, but after two carries the Flames were still looking at a 4th-and-goal from the 8. The half ended with an incomplete pass and the Flames down by 12 going into the locker room.

The Flames kicked off to start the second half, and the defense rallied behind the strong play of Hogan, Clayton Cooper and Mason Edmonds. Northgate took over on downs with the ball on the Perry 22, where Barbarino and Hogan got carries, and Davin threw to Hogan and Williams, but the series stalled and Perry took over on downs at the Northgate 1-yard line. And, on the very next play, Williams made the tackle for another Flame safety and the score was 14 – 4, with 7:50 left in the third quarter.

The Flames’ next score would come after Edmonds recovered a Perry fumble on a punt return, giving the Flames great field position at the Commodores’ 21-yard line. The Flames made it to the Perry 2-yard line before the series stalled, and that’s when Darjee entered to nail a 14-yard field goal to make the score 14 -7 with 3:20 left in the third quarter.

With 39 seconds left in the third quarter, Perry scored another TD and made the 2-point conversion to bring the score to 22 – 7. Neither team would score in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Fulmore said, “I liked the defense, we got four turn-overs today, and that was really big. They played tough when the field got shorter for them, and I really liked that.”