PRIDE — On a night when the Northeast offense committed four turnovers, the seasonlong strength of the team — its defense — made such sins forgivable.
The fifth-seeded Vikings limited No. 28 seed Capitol to 109 yards, pointing the way to a tough 14-6 victory in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“Very seldom can you fumble five times — and lose four of them — and still sneak out with a win,” Northeast coach David Masterson said. “But we’re built around our defense and it shows again tonight.”
This rematch from the District 6-2A season wasn’t much like Northeast’s earlier 28-13 win.
The game went to halftime 2-0 after Northeast swarmed Capitol running back Kelvin Robinson in his own end zone early in the second quarter. Each team managed only one first down in the opening 24 minutes.
Northeast (8-2) controlled much of the second half with its running game, but Capitol had one last shot to force overtime when the Lions took over first-and-10 from its own 5 with 2:24 left. Fittingly, the Vikings’ defense made a quick stand to help Northeast clinch a trip to the second round for the second straight season.
Masterson’s team will face Pickering at home next week. Capitol (2-9) finished the year on a seven-game losing streak.
“I thought we were going to be able to pull it off,” Capitol coach Johnny Duncan said. “We’ve just got to learn from this experience.”
Dominic Yates led all rushers with 113 yards on 12 carries with 111 of those yards coming in the second half. K.J. Robinson had 46 yards, including a 7-yard run for the 14-6 lead.
Ten of the 13 plays Capitol ran in the second quarter resulted in negative yardage.
That included a devastating sequence that, on the heels of the Vikings’ first turnover, pushed the Lions from first-and-10 at the Northeast 28 to fourth-and-36 from its own 46 and led to a Capitol punt.
“It would have been easy to fold right there,” Masterson said.
The game took a strange turn on the opening kickoff of the second half as a confused Lion failed to field the kick and Northeast covered it at the Capitol 1. Marqueon Minor swept the left side two plays later to make it 8-0.
The Lions pulled within 8-6 on a 23-yard wide receiver pass from Ronald Sims to Sedrick Willis but failed on the two-point try.