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A late fumble return by Antwan Carson gives Northeast a 20-14 edge over Dixie Hollins.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published September 2, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Northeast's Antwan Carson believes good things happen to him, and the Vikings 20-14 defeat of Dixie Hollins is proof of how far conviction and a well-timed bounce can take you.
With the score tied at 14 midway through the fourth quarter, Northeast's defense was backpedaling and needed a play in the worst way.
Carson provided it.
The Rebels' Travis Williams fumbled the ball, and Carson was there to scoop it up. The junior linebacker ran back the recovery 73 yards for the winning score on Friday night.
"Right before that play, I prayed that I was able to make something happen," Carson said. "I thought about just falling on the ball, but it was right there in my hands, so I decided to run with it.
"It was a good thing I did."
Fumbles played a big role, due in large part to the weather.
Daily downpours turned John M. Sexton field into a patch of green-and-brown slop that made traction tough.
With the passing game useless, both teams made sure they handed the ball off whenever possible and let the running backs and offensive lines do the rest.
But the conditions made every movement of the ball, including handoffs, an adventure. There were a combined eight fumbles, four of which were lost.
"It's tough to win when you just keep giving the ball away," Vikings coach Jerry Austin said.
Northeast (2-0) held onto the ball on its first drive, marching 68 yards on a drive capped by Jeff Brinson's 5-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed.
Dixie Hollins (1-1) countered with the only big passing play of the night, a 47-yard pass from David Staton to Keith Staton. That set up David Staton's 1-yard plunge for a touchdown.
The Rebels scored again on Williams' fumble recovery in the end zone. Yoshio Renteria made both extra points to give Dixie a 14-6 lead at the half.
The Vikings came back by sticking to their running game. Most of the night they kept everyone fresh by spreading the workload. But late in the third quarter, Northeast turned to Brinson to pound the ball until the Rebels succumbed.
Brinson, who finished 141 yards, scored on a 6-yard run, then added a two-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
There was one negative on the Carson's game-winning play. He punctuated his fumble recovery by flipping into the end zone, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The extra point failed.
"I know the coaches didn't like that," Carson said. "It was bad on my part, and I know I'm going to have to run after practice next week. But I couldn't help it. I was just so excited to score."