COUNTRY CLUB HILLS | T.F. North coach Artie Rogers gave his team a wakeup call at halftime Friday night and the Meteors responded with a big second half, rallying to beat Hillcrest 25-20.
On their first drive, T.F. North (2-1, 1-1 South Suburban Blue) came out and went 56 yards on six plays to take an early lead. Anthony Watkins finished the drive with 15-yard touchdown run.
The Meteors seemed to be a step slow after that first TD and through the rest of the half, giving up 162 rushing yards and trailing the Hawks (0-3, 0-1) by a score of 14-13 at halftime.
“That’s two weeks in a row that we came out and scored on our first possession then gave the touchdown right back,” Rogers said. “They were sleepwalking out there the rest of the first half.”
In the second half, the offense came to life with Watkins leading the way. He totaled 89 of the Meteors' 132 rushing yards and added a pair of scores.
“We were asleep in the first half,” Watkins said. “Coach said we had to wake up and win this game in the second half.”
North opened the scoring in the second half when Watkins found the end zone from the 6 yard line after Dontrell Munoz blocked a Hillcrest punt deep in Hawks' territory.
Just as they had after North’s first two scores, the Hawks came back as Darron Gilton went 56 yards to the Meteor 2 to set up the go-ahead score.
Trailing 20-19 heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like it may be another heartbreaker for the Meteors. The defense came up with big stops twice as Hillcrest tried to put the game away.
The Meteors faced a third and 17 at their own 38 with under five minutes to play, and quarterback Aaron Dunigan kept the drive alive with a 30-yard reception to Nikita Smith Jr.
Three plays later, Watkins scored from a yard out to put his team ahead to stay.
“Last year these guys would have quit when Hillcrest came back and took the lead,” Rogers said. “I’m proud of their effort. They made the plays when they had to tonight.”
Hillcrest drove the ball to the Meteor 14 with 44 seconds to play, but Jamal Williams forced an intentional grounding call on third and 10. The penalty resulted in a 17-yard loss, and Meteors held on fourth down.
“It feels great to get the win,” said Watkins, who finished with three TDs. “Coach made some adjustments to the running lanes, and we came out and executed.”