Brett Payne and Jimmy Arnold combined for 375 yards of offense and six touchdowns to lead North to a 52-43 win over visiting Westlake on Friday.
The Rangers scored 28 points in the second quarter to pull away from the Demons then held on in the second half to secure the season-opening victory.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys out there and we made a lot of mental mistakes that hurt us and we gave up some points,” said North coach Shawn Dodd. Our offense played pretty well overall and defensively we had some big stops. We executed and got a turnover that really turned the game around. That was a big moment.”
That turnover came midway through the fourth quarter after the Rangers scored on Arnold’s 22-yard touchdown run to take a 45-35 lead with 5:35 left in the game.
Westlake took over at its own 20 and fumbled the ball on first down. Jose Carmone recovered for the Rangers at the Demon 23 and Arnold scored on a five-yard run six plays later.
That was a big touchdown as the Demons scored on a 12-yard pass and added a two-point conversion on their next drive.
Spencer Wood recovered Westlake’s onside kick attempt to close out the win.
Westlake struck first when Jacob May completed a 26-yard pass to Dylan Bednar for a 7-0 lead with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
The Rangers responded with a one-yard touchdown by Payne, who finished with 218 yards on 35 carries.
“Payne was our workhorse,” Dodd said. “He did an outstanding job. Our offensive line was unreal. Ethan Spoth was special; Spencer Sedivy and James Steinmetz and Sean Turchon and Gabe Sivpinys, those guys up front really took over to seal the victory. Those guys were outstanding.”
May’s second touchdown pass of the game—this one a 60-yarder to Jacob Jablonski—gave the Demons a 14-7 lead with 11:06 left in the first half.
The Rangers dominated the next 10 minutes.
Arnold threw a 12-yard pass to Spencer Wood to tie the game then ran for a 58-yard score to give North a 21-14 advantage with 4:59 left until the break.
“It’s huge,” Arnold said of his breakout performance. “I waited four years for this moment. I promised myself I wouldn’t mess it up. We had a huge crowd tonight as well as a huge student section and we put on a show as a team together. I couldn’t be more of our O-line, my dude Brett Payne and the team as a whole.”
Dylan Froelich recovered a fumble in the end zone to push the Ranger lead to 28-14 and Payne added a 79-yard touchdown run with 1:48 left.
May threw his third touchdown of the game to James Colman with 53 seconds left to trim North’s lead to 35-21 at the break.
“The second quarter was a game changer,” Arnold said. “The defense came up with some huge stops and the offense just executed. Everyone did their job and assignment and that’s all we need.”
Wood added a 33-yard field goal in the third quarter but May struck again, this time with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walls to pull the Demons back to within 10, 38-28.
Westlake’s James Colman ran for a 45-yard touchdown 19 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a three-point game but Arnolds scored on runs of 22 and 5 yards to give the Rangers a 52-35 lead with 2:12 left in the game.
Arnold finished the game 3-of-6 passing for 35 yards and he ran for 122 more on 13 carries.
“I’m really proud of him,” Dodd said of Arnold. “He read things well and threw a beautiful touchdown pass. He showed leadership and great poise. He did a great job on some of our option stuff and zone read. He really stepped up and did a great job. I’m proud of him.”
May added a 12-yard touchdown pass, his fifth of the game, with 42 seconds remaining but the Rangers recovered the onside kick to end the game.
“The first win is always the best especially when it’s the first game,” Arnold said. “You finally got the one under your belt and we’re ready for week two. Big shout out to Ranger Nation and the community of Eastlake for coming out. Looking up and seeing a packed crowd is something special to me.”
The Rangers host Revere on Friday.