If defense wins championships, then North Shore appears to be in very good shape with three weeks left before the state final. The Mustangs survived a determined Elsik comeback and held on for a hard fought 17-10 victory over the Rams.
North Shore coach David Aymond told his team after the game not to worry about the numbers on the scoreboard, thinking that a low scoring win might not be pretty enough for his players tastes. He didn’t need to be concerned.
“Our approach was to keep our mindset on stopping the run,” North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley said. “We knew it was going to be a physical game, we just had to keep finishing up. Down by down, one play at a time.”
Aymond has every reason to be proud of its defense because Elsik came into this game on a roll, winners of seven straight and scoring better than 34 points per game during that stretch.
Both defenses held the offenses in check for more than two and a half quarters. Both sides allowed one touchdown, Elsik’s came first on a 32 yard Caleb Bedford to Malcolm Washington connection in the first quarter. North Shore responded in the second with a seven yard touchdown pass from Micah Thomas to Jared Pendleton.
The score stayed that way until late in the third quarter when Pendleton got loose again, this time on a 21 yard touchdown run to put the Mustangs up seven at 14-7.
Early in the fourth quarter it looked like Elsik would tie the game back up. Facing a fourth and one on the North Shore one yard line, the Rams went for it Caleb Cormier appeared to score a touchdown. But Elsik was penalized for an illegal formation and the ball was moved back to the six. Jonathan Kenewell booted a 24 yard field goal to bring Elsik within 4 points at 14-10.
Both offenses stagnated until North Shore was able to put together a drive late in the fourth quarter. However, the drive stalled at the Elsik two yard line with just under three minutes to go. The chance to go up 11 was tempting, but Aymond put his trust in his defense and sent in Carlos Perez to kick the field goal and put the Mustangs up 17-10.
“We felt good. They had to go down, score and kick it. Those kind of things to tie it and put it into overtime and we felt good about it,” Aymond said. “We could have gone for it down there but I would rather make sure that it’s, not that a field goal is a sure thing, but when you get down there you’ve got to come up with something.”
From there it was up to the North Shore defense to stop Elsik. The Rams moved the ball to the North Shore 32 where they faced a do or die fourth and two with just over :30 left. Aymond called time out to set his defense and gave the right piece of advice.
“That last one, we felt like we could tip it. We talked to a kid and that’s exactly what happened,” Aymond said. “He tipped that pass and the rest is history.”
Beford’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and caught by an offensive lineman who wasn’t able to get a first down and North Shore held on for the win.
“If you believe in defense you’ve got to hang your hat on defense,” North Shore head coach David Aymond said. North Shore did just that, holding Elsik to 3.5 yards per rush.
North Shore advances to the 5A Division I Region III final next week for a matchup with Lamar, which won 24-14 over Fort Bend Travis.