Warner Robins - Northside-Warner Robins and Warner Robins were breaking in new quarterbacks when they revived their bitter rivalry.
The one with a familiar last name didn’t have a headliner night, but he had a winning night.
Dylan Fromm passed for four touchdowns and Warner Robins' defense had a solid second half as the Demons knocked off Northside 28-17 Friday in the sloppy season opener for both teams at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
The regular overflow crowd of more than 10,000 for this matchup of schools less than four miles apart saw a game filled with penalties, dropped interceptions, officials conferences and some great plays amid typical first-game issues.
But Fromm, a younger brother of Georgia freshman quarterback Jake, passed for two second-quarter touchdowns to revive the Demons, who turned a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 lead, one they didn’t relinquish.
“The touchdowns in the second quarter were huge,” he said. “We took a little while to get going, but our defense stepped up all night.”
Warner Robins held Northside to 168 yards in total offense and fewer than five second-half first downs.
“Our defense stepped up and played good,” Warner Robins head coach Mike Chastain said. “They did a great job all night.”
Northside, ranked fourth in Class AAAAAA by the AJC, hosts Henry County on Thursday while Warner Robins hosts Locust Grove, on Friday.
Northside took a 10-0 lead, thanks to a high punt snap that put the Eagles inside the 10, setting up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jadin Daniels to Marcus Jolly.
A poor Warner Robins punt early in the second quarter set up a 42-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
The Demons defense then forced two fumbles deep in Northside territory, and the offense converted them into touchdowns in less than two minutes for a 14-10 halftime lead. One was on a 25-yard flea flicker from Fromm to brother Tyler Fromm, among the state’s better wide receivers.
Both Fromms, along with wide receiver Jaeven West, transferred from Houston County to Warner Robins after last season and the departure of Houston County head coach Von Lassiter to Bleckley County. West had a quality game, with a leaping touchdown catch among his nine receptions for 111 yards.
Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler was still hot after the game, angry with what he saw as inconsistent officiating that made some momentum-changing calls.
“The most disturbing thing was, I thought we were playing well, but every time we turned around, every call in the game …” he said after his team was flagged 12 times for 110 yards. “The momentum shifted there. At some point, I think our kids got a little frustrated there. I was proud they regroups and came back.
“Just a frustrating night, very frustrating for a lot of reasons.”
But he also saw a Warner Robins team that eventually pulled ahead on its own.
“I give Warner Robins credit,” he said. “They made plays when they had to.”
Northside is in a rebuilding mode, while Warner Robins is rebounding from a 3-8 season that started with a 55-3 loss to the Eagles in the first game for Chastain as the Demons’ head coach.
Both teams have new quarterbacks.
Daniels took over for three-year starter Tobias Oliver, who was 34-6 as Northside’s starting quarterback and led the Eagles to the Class AAAAA title in 2014 as a sophomore. Oliver is now at Georgia Tech.
Daniels was 12 of 23 for 110 yards, a touchdown and an interception, adding 30 yards on 18 carries in the Eagles’ option offense. He also struggled with ball-handling, and the Demons took advantage.
Dylan Fromm finished 23 of 38 for 229 yards, surviving nearly a half-dozen near interceptions.
This year’s opener was quite a turnaround from Northside’s 55-3 win in Chastain’s debut.
The Demons battled through offensive issues last season with two quarterbacks, converted offensive lineman and Northside transfer Dalton Hedden and defensive back/wide receiver Michael Bradley.
Bradley graduated, and Hedden is a defensive lineman.
The quarterback position is clearly settled for the Demons, but Chastain was happy with something else.
“The key was our depth,” he said. “We played seven offensive linemen … maybe six down (defensive) linemen, four or five running backs, maybe seven or eight receivers. Without a doubt, our depth was the difference.”