Northern’s offense struggles in loss to Wakefield
As though the going were not tough enough for the Northern football team, a laceration requiring stitches in the first quarter forced leading running back Alphonso Gbojueh to sit out the first half of the Knights’ 37-7 loss at Raleigh Wakefield on Friday.
Northern (0-3) gained only 27 first-half yards, falling behind 28-0 at halftime as the Knights played through the third game of a brutal non-conference schedule. Five of the Knights’ six non-conference games are against playoff teams.
“We have to learn to finish,” Northern coach R.J. Wilson said of the team’s first-half woes. “We need to finish drives, our turnovers hurt us today. One thing we cannot do is give good teams turnovers.”
The game started with a sloppy opening possession for the Knights. A three-and-out series resulted in an inadvertent downing of the ball by the Knights’ punter for a 15-yard loss, giving Wakefield possession at the 10-yard line.
Only two plays later, Wakefield (2-0) quarterback Evan Brabrand completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Josh Lowery.
To close out the first half, Wakefield’s Mike Shelton intercepted a Zaaqhai Mann pass and returned it 43 yards to set up a Brabrand 13-yard touchdown run to give the Wolverines a four-score lead at half.
The lone bright spot for the Knights was Gbojueh’s return in the second-half. He ran for 73 yards on 13 second-half rushing attempts.
Mann scored the Knights’ only touchdown with a 3-yard score with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
When asked about Northern’s difficult non-conference schedule, Wilson, who only took the head coaching reins in April after the schedule was set, said, “I think the idea was to get good experience early.”
“I don’t want to make any excuses for our guys,” Wilson said of adjusting to his offense. “We’re trending in a positive direction. We made mistakes early to sent them up with early scores, but we played better in the second half.”
Wakefield 37, Northern 7
W—Josh Lowery 5 pass from Evan Brabrand (run failed), 9:31.
W—Jake Butler 16 pass from Brabrand (Kelton Whitehead run), 5:11.
W—Brabrand 13 run (Charles Morris kick), 5:30.
W—Whitehead run (Morris kick), 3:13.
W—Morris 24 FG, 9:32.
W—Brabrand 7 run (kick fail), 1:39.
N—Zaaqhai Mann 3 run (TJ Milby kick), 5:57.
RUSHING—Northern, Alphonso Gbojueh 14-73, Mann 24-37, Domineke McNeill 9-22, Dejuan Graham 1-2, Jacob Johnson 1-(minus-2), Dillon Leovic 1-(minus-15). Wakefield, David Chavis 2-22, Brabrand 7-15, Jordan Massenberg 1-11, Lucas Tine 4-8, Marius Cooper 3-7, Kelton Whitehead 5-5.
PASSING—Northern, Mann 3-9-2 10, 0 TD. Wakefield, Brabrand 11-23-0 149, 2 TD.
RECEIVING—Northern, Ravon Bass 1-12, Amarray Jay 1-0, Johnathan Branch 1-(minus-2). Wakefield, Keith Wilson 3-58, Josh Lowery 4-56, Tim Adams 3-24, Mike Shelton 2-20.
Records—Northern 0-3; Wakefield 2-0.