By David King
North Springs always has close games with the Carver Panthers. A tough game got tougher 24 hours before kickoff when starting QB broke his hand, inserting sophomore QB Buck Olson into the starting lineup with short notice. Olson opened with completions to Dante Camp and Nick Keou, before Zahir Nichols took a screen pass 57-yards for a touchdown. Derek Viersen added the PAT. The Panthers bobbled a shotgun snap, enabling Torice Antione to recover the fumble at the 7. Kyree Green barreled in from there for a 13-0 lead. A long penalty-plagued Panther drive ended with a punt that grazed a Spartan at the 19. The Panthers scored with a lob pass to the end zone. Zahir Nichols long kickoff return plus a facemask put the Spartans at the opponent 32. Olson connected with Nick Keou to the 12. Kyree Green used excellent blocking to sweep left for an 8-yard TD. Carver responded with a long TD drive to pull within 20-14 at the end of the busy 1st quarter.
The first North Springs drive of the 2nd quarter ended on downs at the Panther 30. Neriyan Brown snatched his first interception and made a nice return to the Carver 34, from where the Spartans could not get a first down. The teams then exchanged punts. The Spartans recovered another fumble at their 36. Leveraging the wildcat formation, Zahir Nichols and Kyree Green moved the ball to the Panther 17. Olson threw into the end zone, where the ball deflected off the battling receiver and DB into the hands of another Carver DB, who raced 102 yards for a pick 6 touchdown to tie the game at 20.
In the 3rd quarter, Carver’s opening long drive ended with lateral fumbled at the Spartan 31. The Spartans had to punt, setting up a Carver 70-yard return TD. Mike McKinzie, who starred throughout the game, blocked the PAT. A Nick Keou kickoff return to the 38-preceded multiple productive Kyree Green carries, capped off by Zahir Nichols wildcat right for a TD. Viersen’s kick gave North Springs a 27-26 lead. Unfortunately, Carver returned the subsequent kickoff to the Spartan 3 and quickly regained the lead 32-27.
North Springs opened the 4th quarter with an excellent drive to the Carver 6 but turned the ball over on downs. After the defense held, North Springs used a double reverse to Dante Camp and three Kyree Green carries to the 20. Buck Olson completed a clutch 4th down pass to Nick Keou at the 5. The offensive line opened a huge hole for Kyree Green to run up middle for a 34-32 lead with 4:42 left in the game. Things looked great when Neriyan Brown made another interception at the Spartan 40. With the officials not seeing a face mask or horse collar on the next drive, the Spartans punted to the Carver 30. The officials did see a Spartan face mask to assist Carver quickly moving down the field to retake the lead at 39-34 with only 47 seconds left. Carver intercepted a long pass to seal their victory. The Spartans travel to Maynard Jackson Friday for a 5:30pm kickoff.