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North Central comes up short in sectional final

By B.J. Hargis
Photo by B.J. HARGIS: North Central senior Chase Wiseley shows his emotion after playing his last game for the Thunderbirds. He had a pick six for a touchdown in a 33-14 loss.

FARMERSBURG — In a complete role reversal from the regular season, No. 2 Eastern Greene dominated from start to finish as they defeated host No. 9 North Central 33-14 on Friday to win Class A Sectional 48.
“They came out and punched us in the mouth,” said North Central football coach Travis Nolting. “They wanted it more than we did.”
It was the second consecutive sectional title for Eastern Greene, who won in Class A Sectional 47 last year.
This was the third consecutive loss in the title game for North Central, who lost in 2015 and 2016 to Linton.
“For the third consecutive time, we’ve been in the sectional title finals,” said Nolting. “I think that speaks volumes about how far this program has come in seven years.
“Obviously it hurts.”
In the end, the Eastern Greene offensive and defensive lines dominated, causing fits for North Central all night.
The T-birds of Sullivan County looked nothing like the team that rolled up 311 yards, 202 by Dawson Basinger, as they led for three quarters before falling 22-14 at Eastern Greene three weeks ago.
“Our offense wasn’t able to put anything together tonight,” said Nolting. “They didn’t really give our defense a chance.
“We weren’t able to sustain our blocks and get to the second level and make blocks on their good linebackers.”
North Central’s defense had no answers for Caleb Hamilton. The senior quarterback, who had two TDs and 128 yards rushing in the first game, took over in the second half.
Hamilton rushed 22 times for 204 yards and three touchdowns, just in the final 24 minutes. He finished with 34 rushes for 254 yards and four TDs, including runs of 3, 11, 6 and 18.
He also began the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Helton.
“He’s a big, powerful guy,” Nolting said of Hamilton. “When you try to tackle him up high, he’s going to get two or three extra yards.
“Caleb Hamilton is a great player. He’s a kid that’s a program changer for them. He is going to be very hard to replace for them.”
Hamilton’s first TD run, put the visitors ahead 12-0 at intermission.
Eastern Greene drove 65 and 50 yards, the second time set up by a second North Central fumble, to push its cushion to 26-0 and put them well on their way to a fifth consecutive win over North Central after losing 10 of the first 11 meetings in the series.
“Despite making history by winning 10 this year, I felt like we never played one complete football game all season,” said Nolting. “We had penalties, mistakes and fumbles which cost us.
“I told the kids we would have to have perfect execution tonight and that was not the case. I don’t think we played up to our potential all season. That is something our seniors will have to live with and our underclassmen will have to think about for 365 days.”
Senior Chase Wiseley intercepted a pass by Hamilton and returned it 38 yards as North Central finally scored on the first play of the fourth quarter.
After Hamilton’s final TD, North Central scored its only touchdown from scrimmage on a 42-yard drive. Ty Thompson scampered around the corner for a 2-yard score and then ran in the two-point conversion to finish off the scoring and a 10-2 season.
North Central had a chance to cut the lead in half late in the first half, but three consecutive incomplete passes, one by Cody Curtis on a halfback option toss, and a run for no gain by Blake Chatman ended things at the Eastern Greene 9.
“Not being able to score at the end of the half really hurt,” said Nolting. “We just did not execute very well.
“They were more physical than we were.”
Eastern Greene outgained North Central 360-116 in total yardage.
EGHS 33, NCHS 14
Eastern Greene                   6 6 14  7 — 33
North Central                       0 0  0 14 — 14

First quarter
E — Ethan Helton 11 pass from Caleb Hamilton (kick failed), 2:41.
Second quarter
E — Hamilton 3 run (run failed), 9:40.
Third quarter
E — Hamilton 11 run (Drummond kick), 7:16.
E — Hamilton 6 run (Drummond kick), 3:06.
Fourth quarter
NC — Chase Wiseley 38 interception return (pass failed), 11:52.
E — Hamilton 18 run (Drummond kick), 9:52.
NC — Ty Thompson 2 run (Thompson run), 3:46.
            E     NC
First downs         17     8
Rushes-yards         44-275     45-119
Passing yards         85     (-3)
Total yards         360     116
C-A-I        7-12-2     1-4-0
Penalties         6-70     4-29
Punts-avg.         3-36    5-32
Fumbles-lost        0-0    4-2
Return yards         0     188
Time of possession     26:17     21:43
RUSHING — Eastern Greene, Caleb Hamilton 34-254, Nick Fox 7-14, Blayne Campbell 2-4, Levi Southern 1-3. North Central, Dawson Basinger 14-70, Blake Chatman 16-49, Cody Curtis 7-16, Thompson 8-(-16).
PASSING — Eastern Greene, Hamilton 7-12-2-71. North Central: Thompson 1-3-0-(-3), Curtis 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Eastern Greene, Joel Weimer 3-55, JW Howard 2-27, Ethan Helton 1-0, Jade Evans 1-0. North Central, Chatman 1-(minus 3).

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