Eric Jones

North's Eric Jones stiff-arms a defender during a game Thursday against South Middle School. Jones scored two rushing touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the 36-22 win.

Ethan Farris

South's Ethan Farris carries the ball toward a hole in the line during a game Thursday against North Middle School. Farris scored two rushing touchdowns in the 36-22 loss.

The North Middle School Gators beat the South Middle School Trojans 36-22 at the old high school football field Thursday in the first game of the season for both teams.

The Gators pulled away late in the first half and extended their lead early in the second half to start the season off with a win over the rival Trojans.

North head football coach Kenny Shultz said that he was happy with how his players performed after an offseason of working hard to improve.

“They’re hungry. They’ve put in so much work,” Shultz said. “To be able to open up your season against your rival is always tough, but they kept their emotions in check, they played well and we pulled one out.”

South head football coach Curtis Francis said that he saw some things his team will need to adjust before their next contest.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board. I’ve seen a couple of things that we’ll need to make some adjustments on,” Francis said. “You’ve got to give it to (North). Their team was well-coached and they played well.”

The Gators got the first points on the board when Matthew Ratcliffe ran into the end zone with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion made it 8-0 early.

The Trojans were able to respond with a lengthy drive which ended in a touchdown run by Ethan Farris. However, a failed two-point conversion attempt would leave them trailing 8-6 with five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Gators continued to move the ball well on the ground as a long run by Ratcliffe set up a touchdown run by Eric Jones to put the Gators ahead by a margin of 14-6 with four minutes left in the half.

North would get the ball back again shortly after when a fumble by the Trojans was jumped on by the defense of the Gators to give them excellent field position.

Jones ran the ball into the end zone again with 20 seconds left on the clock to expand the North lead to 16 points.

The Gators led 22-6 at halftime.

The Gators picked up right where they left on the second half when CJ Seals connected with Jacob Hardison for a long touchdown pass to make it 30-6 less than a minute into the third quarter.

The Trojans were able to cut into the lead on their next drive as they marched down the field and were able to score on a touchdown run by Kai Baker with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter.

The score remained that way for only 15 seconds, however, as Jones scooped up the ensuing kickoff and ran it all the way back for his third touchdown of the contest. The score gave the Gators a 36-14 edge.

The next few drives ended in turnovers on downs as the clock continued to tick away.

The Trojans got one more score in the final seconds when Aydin Horton broke off a long run to get inside the red zone, and Farris closed the drive off with his second touchdown of the night.

With the win, the Gators opened their season with a record of 1-0.

They will next play Tuesday at home against Warren County Middle School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

With the loss, the Trojans began their campaign with a record of 0-1.

They will next play Tuesday at White County Middle School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.