Northland Christian came into the TAPPS Division III championship scoring at will on just about everyone. Since the opening week, Northland had not scored fewer than 49 points in a game and Colleyville Covenant Christian held Northland to just 7 first half points and 160 yards at the break. After halftime, Northland proved they could play the close game and grinded out a 21-17 win.
Trailing 17-7 at the break, Northland Christian coach David Nelson told his team “they have a choice. They can choose the blue ribbon or the red ribbon and they chose the blue ribbon.” Northland responded to their coach’s call, erasing a 10-point deficit, dominating the time of possession, and allowing just three Covenant possessions in the second half. On Covenant’s first possession of the half, a bad snap and punt gave Northland possession at the 44 and they scored two plays later on a 25-yard pass from Michael Massarella to Tai Thomas. The next possession for Covenant ended with an interception by John Oloh. Following the turnover, Northland showed their strength with a 12-play drive, going 73 yards and ending with a TD run by Massarealla from a yard out.
Northland forced the Covenant offense off the field with a three-and-out only to have the punt muffed on their own 15. Covenant would run eight plays, reaching the 1-yard line only to be stopped on 4th down. Northland took over with 7:31 on the clock and never relinquished possession while running 14 straight running plays before assuming the victory formation at the Covenant 7 yard line.
Northland drew first blood at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter on an 8-play drive, started by a 33-yard run by Christian Lovick and capped by a 4-yard TD run by QB Michael Massarella on fourth down. It looked like Northland would get rolling offensively and looked impressive on the next drive but a sack and big pass breakup by Donald Roberts forced a Northland punt. The Covenant Christian Cougars scored 17 straight points after the big stand.
The ensuing drive saw Jack Reed score on a 37-yard pass from Josh Stith. Northland’s Brady Abt intercepted a Stith pass on the play prior to the score which was negated by a pass interference call. Covenant Christian would regain possession after a Northland turnover on downs at the 40. Covenant promptly marched to the endzone on a very methodical, 8-play drive capped by a 24-yard TD run by Stith. Donald Roberts would recover the following kickoff and Covenant would add their final points on a 25-yard field goal by Seth Keller
Michael Massarella led Northland offensively, rushing 37 times for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. The senior also passed for 123 yards and a score. Northland Christian completes an undefeated season at 14-0. Colleyville Covenant ends the season with a 12-2 record.
– Northland Christian (1) and Covenant Christian (2) were our two top-ranked teams entering the playoffs.
– Northland Christian’s Hunter Pace was kept out of running with the offense after an injury in a team walkthrough prior to the state championship game.
– Colleyville Covenant was held scoreless in the second half.
– Captains for Northland Christian were Michael Massarella, Brady Abt, Zane Owens, and Parker Leach. The Covenant Christian captains were Joshua Stith, Niven Raj, Ben Fitzgerald, Caegan Long.
– Northland held Covenant’s leading receiver Niven Raj to just two catches and 3 yards.
NRTH Michael Masssarella 4 yard run (Hunter Pace kick) 4:22
COVE Jack Reed 37 yard pass from Josh Stith (Seth Keller kick) 8:06
COVE Josh Stith 24 yard run (Seth Keller kick) 2:25
COVE Seth Keller 25 yard field goal 0:43
NRTH Tai Thomas 25 yard pass from Michael Massarella (Hunter Pace kick) 8:18
NRTH Michael Massarella 1 yard run (Hunter Pace kick) 1:18