First downs and touchdowns were hard to come by at Northside on Friday night, but the Rams overcame numerous penalties and unforced errors to earn a 12-6 win over region rival Haleyville.

The game was tied at 6-6 for nearly the entire second half, but Northside finally pulled ahead on a quarterback keeper with just over 5 minutes remaining. On third-and-1 at Haleyville’s 11-yard line, sophomore quarterback Braden Green snatched a high snap, found a crease in the defense and dodged several defenders on his way to the game-winning score.

“It was great,” Green said. “Before the ball was snapped, I was just trying to score or get the first down.”

Northside was in control through the first quarter and a half, outgaining the Rams 61-11 over the teams’ first four drives. The Rams forced four straight three-and-outs to open the game and did not allow Haleyville to complete a pass.

Their lead was only 6-0, though, after they turned the ball over in Haleyville territory on their first two drives. Running back Jace McNutt rounded the corner from 12 yards out to put the Rams on the board.

But in the final few minutes of the first half, things began to unravel.

An illegal block in the back foul followed by a snap over Green’s head brought up a third-and-39 for Northside late in the second quarter. The Rams were called for holding on their next possession, bringing up a first-and-20, and another snap over Green’s head led to third-and-37.

After halftime, three false starts, two holding penalties and a personal foul prevented Northside from pulling away.

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“We’ve just got to get it corrected,” Northside coach Chris Hilliker said. “We’ve got to get the mental errors corrected. We’ve got a big game next week and we’ve got to try to get better every day next week.”

When Haleyville lost a fumble near midfield early in the fourth quarter, Northside sensed its opportunity to seal the game. McNutt, who had been held to 49 yards on 13 carries to that point, ripped off runs of 17, 12 and 18 yards to get the Rams in position for Green’s go-ahead score.

The victory still wasn’t assured until the final play, though. McNutt fumbled with 29 seconds left to give Haleyville one more chance, but junior quarterback Eli Musso’s pass was intercepted at the goal line by senior Wes Maluda.

“We talked about it at halftime [when it was] 6-6,” Hilliker said. “I told them one score is going to win the game. Somebody’s going to score in the second half and win the game. You know what? We took care of business and did what we had to do to get it done.”

Northside (3-0, 1-0) hosts Gordo next week in a game that could decide the Class 4A, Region 5 title.

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