Published: Oct 09, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Oct 08, 2011 12:36 AM
CHAPEL HILL - The last time East Chapel Hill and Northern Durham met in Wildcat Stadium, East won on a last-second 50-yard field goal.
No such dramatics were in store Friday night as the Knights outmanned the Wildcats 44-21 in a battle for first place in the PAC-6 conference.
After starting the season 0-3, Northern has won four straight games -- all in conference play -- and has scored successively more points in each win.
"We have a new coach, and we are turning stuff around," said running back Kylyn Flemming who rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown. "The talent has been here, but now we're doing good."
The Knights defense forced seven East Chapel Hill turnovers, including four interceptions of quarterback Drew Davis, as the Wildcats (2-6, 2-1 PAC) suffered their second straight loss.
"What can you do with seven turnovers," ECHHS coach Bill Renner said. "We made too many mistakes, and they are too good of a football team that is well coached."
Northern (4-3, 4-0 PAC) scored 28 points off the Wildcats' turnovers, and it built a 21-0 lead off of three Wildcat mistakes in the first 15 minutes."That's the fastest start we've had this year," Northern Northern coach Gary Merrill said.
Rodney Sheppard intercepted Drew Davis on the first play of the game and returned it to the ECHHS 47-yard line. A 44-yard run by Flemming put Northern at the 3. Quarterback Charah Wheeler, who also rushed for over 100 yards, took it in two plays later.
A Wildcats fumble with 33 seconds left in the first quarter gave the Knights another scoring opportunity at the East 14. Wheeler hit Brandon Brown from 9 yards out to go up 14-0.
Northern made it a three-TD lead after a fake punt put the Knights at the Wildcats' 40. Two runs by running back Justin Shaw, including one for 36 yards, put Northern in the end zone for a third time.
East also took advantage of Northern's mistakes, when they came. One play after Ian Levin picked off a Wheeler pass at the Wildcats' 34-yard line and returned deep into Knight territory, Davis hit Alex Moore for a 29-yard TD with 4:29 left in the half.
Davis ended the frustrating night with 28 completions on 50 attempts for 278 yards.
The Wildcats had another chance to score just before the half but were stopped at the Northern 14, the Knights' second stymie of East within their red zone in the first half.
"That was the most important part of our game tonight," Merrill said. "It made a difference for the second half."
Indeed. On its first possession of the second half, Northern drove 69 yards on eight plays to go up 24-7.
Davis linked up two more times with Moore. Helped by a Northern interference call on a fourth down, Davis hit Moore with a 15-yard TD pass on the next play. Starting East's next possession at midfield, the Wildcats needed just four plays for Davis to hurl a 38-yard strike to Moore that cut the margin to 38-21.