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JACKSONVILLE -— Northside High was the latest team to be introduced to the punishing Southern Nash ground attack and star senior Quinton Cooley.
The 5-foot-8, 193-pound Wake Forest University commit, who entered as the state’s leading rusher with 917 yards, piled on 307 more in the Firebirds’ 45-22 romp to improve to 6-0. Cooley scored a pair of first-half touchdowns to help Southern Nash of the 3-A Big East Conference build a 31-14 halftime lead in the first ever game against Northside. The 3-A Coastal Conference Monarchs dropped to 3-4.
Sophomore Jackson Vick had 40 of the Firebirds’ 467 rushing yards, including a 22-yard TD run in the first quarter, while senior quarterback Matt Foster carried 10 times for 63 yards, including an 18-yard fourth-quarter TD to complete the scoring.
Cooley reached the end zone from 12 yards out in the second quarter before Monarchs quarterback Notrae Andrews punched it in from a yard out. Jaheim White’s extra-point kick made it 14-7 with 8:33 left. But the Firebirds retaliated almost immediately with senior Daylon Whitley scoring on a 4-yard run and senior Evan Barnes connected on the third of his five PAT kicks.
Northside scored again on Marq’tavious Mcintyre’s 15-yard run before the Firebirds embarked on another scoring drive just before halftime. Cooley’s 3-yard run put Southern ahead 28-14 with halftime looming.
However, the Monarchs fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Southern Nash recovered. After running a couple of plays, Barnes trotted onto the field and split the uprights on a 40-yard field goal.
The only TD in the third quarter was a 15-yard connection from Foster to senior Izaiah Walker-Warren, who picked up two of Northside’s three fumbles on defense. The Firebirds limited Northside to 241 offensive yards.
Southern Nash will take off next week, along with the rest of the Big East, before starting league play Oct. 11 at Fike.