BY MATT HILL
HAMPTON -- The first half was highlighted by North Greene big plays, but the second half dominance of the Hampton offensive line along with some missed opportunities prevented the Huskies from pulling off one of their biggest wins in school history.
The Huskies led at halftime thanks to a Tanner O'Laughlin 66-yard touchdown pass to DJ Triplett and an earlier 90-yard pass to Mason Early, but a four touchdown second half by traditional powerhouse Hampton led the 'Dogs to a 41-20 win at J.C. Campbell Stadium Friday night.
Big plays were huge in the first half as to open the scoring with 4:21 to go in the first quarter, Triplett ran a 46-yard sweep where he eluded several Hampton defenders for the score. A Tyler Bailey kick led North Greene to a 7-0 advantage and started a half of big plays.
Hampton star quarterback Lane Smith led the 'Dogs back with a 64 connection to Mark Airport that tied the game at 7-7. Smith had an interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter as well, that put the Bulldogs ahead 14-13.
In between were the two huge pass plays that were good throws plus good catches by the receivers.
The three touchdowns showed that sometimes big plays can overcome dominance on time of possession.
Though the game quickly changed, the fact North Greene had the lead at halftime was something the team was very pleased with.
"Hampton is a football team that you can't run at," North Greene head coach Josh Edens said. "You have to really be able to milk that clock and our best option is to get them out of the box. We created some running lanes and some big plays. The passing game had to be there for us tonight and it was. It wasn't flawless, but Tanner did a great job."
The second half saw a few mistakes and turnovers help pull the game away from North Greene, and this also allowed Hampton to dominate the line of scrimmage en route to a 302 yard rushing night as a team.
Hampton's B.J. Taylor and Chris Ellis went for 105 and 103 yards respectively.
A five yard score from Taylor, ten and five-yard runs from Ellis and a 53-yard touchdown run by Lane Smith set up a dominating second half.
It was still a great night statistically for North Greene as O'Laughlin went 8-of-18 with 243 yards passing. Triplett led North Greene with 53 yards rushing in a very balanced attack.
Hampton's offensive line, though, dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half, and it did cause North Greene to wear down.
"Hampton dominated the time of possession and they ran it down our throat," Edens said. "They were getting five or six yards a pop, but we were able to get through there and stop them a few times, but we've been shattered this week with injuries and we had people going both ways. I'm proud of the way we battled, but in the end they kind of won the war of attrition and wore us down and their athletes took over."
One thing is for sure, North Greene made a statement that was sent loud and clear to the Mountain East Conference. The Huskies are no longer an automatic win on the schedule.
"We want to be a Hampton," Edens said. "We want to have that pedigree, but it just takes time. We're progressively getting there. We want to get to a point where we can start playing with the bigger teams like this. We took a step in the right direction against the Dogs."
North Greene takes on county foe Chuckey-Doak next Friday.