Northmont Hangs On To Defeat Wayne
October 27, 2012Northmont High School Football
By RON NUNNARI
CLAYTON — Northmont did everything it could Friday night to hand a victory to Wayne, surrendering a pair of safeties late in the fourth quarter but still managed to escape with a 14-11 victory.
The wild fourth quarter was almost surreal as it unfolded, but it made up for a rather dull and scoreless first half.
Northmont finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Blake Harper blocked a Collin Belcher punt that Kyle Webster recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. On fourth down and seven Harper got good penetration as Belcher tried to get the punt off. Harper stuck his hand out and sent the ball careening toward the left front corner of the end zone. Webster ran after the ball with a Wayne player hot on his heels, but Webster managed to gather the ball in for the touchdown with 6:07 remaining in the third.
“Harper's blocked punt was huge and then we got a nice kickoff return by Hickman to help setup our next touchdown. Both those plays were key to our winning the game,” said Northmont coach Lance Schneider.
After Northmont's score, the Warriors answered with a 10 play, 80 yard drive with 5-foot, 4-inch running back Kenny Bester scoring on a four yard run to tie the game 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff Hickman returned the kickoff 40 yards to the Wayne 46 to give the Thunderbolts excellent field position. On first down Cameron Belton threw a pass to Isaiah Williams, who juked his way to the 13 yard line. On the next play Jalen Christian rambled 13 yards to paydirt and Cody Rice added the extra point to put Northmont up 14-7 with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Neither team could crack the end zone in the fourth quarter, but things got wild in the final four minutes of play.
On fourth down at their own 28 the Thunderbolts lined up to punt. A low snap to Zach Weatherford and pressure from Wayne defenders caused Weatherford to scoop up the ball and run into his own end zone for a safety with 3:42 remaining. Trailing 14-9 and about to get the ball back, the Warriors had a prime opportunity to take the lead.
Tristan Davis returned the ensuing Northmont kick 22 yards to the 50 yard line and it appeared Wayne was in business. On first down Wayne quarterback Javon Harrison lofted a deep pass that hung in the air like a ripe piece of fruit. Hickman intercepted the pass at the 25, stumbled and fell down after a 10 yard return with3:26 left. Northmont got conservative, playing not to lose, but lost four yards on three consecutive running plays and lined up to punt. Another bad snap from center sent the ball sailing over Weatherford's head and towards the end zone. Weatherford chased the ball into the end zone and kicked it out the back of the end zone for yet another safety, making it 14-11 with 1:49 remaining.
“You never know how much you're going to miss your long snapper until he gets hurt,” Schneider commented. “It is what it is. We survived it.”
It was “A Nightmare on National Road” playing out before the fans eyes as the tension began to build among the Northmont faithful who braved the rainy weather.
As in the case when a team takes a safety, they must also kick the ball back to their opponent as punishment. Jesse Bray returned the kick to the Wayne 40 giving the Warriors excellent field position. On fourth down and three Harrison dropped back to pass and had to roll to his left as the Northmont defense chased him out of the pocket. It appeared as though Harrison was going to be forced out of bounds short of a first down, but he fumbled the ball forward near the far sideline with the ball just getting past the first down marker.
The fans booed in protest of the “fumble rooski” but the play stood. On the next play Harrison tossed a 28 yard pass to Bray down the left sideline to give the Warriors a first down at the Northmont 21 with one minute left. Northmont helped Wayne by jumping offside moving the ball to the 16.
Two consecutive incomplete passes set up third and five. Wayne fumbled and Harrison grabbed the ball and got hit hard from behind. With no timeouts left the Warriors appeared doomed, but Harrison was injured on the play stopping the clock with 21 seconds left.
As Wayne scrambled to get its field goal unit on the field the fans screamed in protest as the play clock stood at 21 seconds. The officials didn't restart the clock until the Warriors were lined up to snap the ball.
Belcher lined up for the 44 yard field goal attempt and got off a clean kick that was long enough, but sailed wide left allowing Northmont to escape with a 14-11 win.
With the victory Northmont earned a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division title along with Beavercreek. Both teams finished 4-1 in division play and 7-3 overall. Wayne fell to second place in the division with a 3-2 division record while also finishing 7-3 overall.
The big difference is that Wayne managed to qualify for the playoffs next Saturday night, but the loss to Northmont cost the Warriors the chance to host a first round game. Wayne will learn who their first round opponent is on Sunday. Northmont did not manage to qualify for postseason play.
“You have to congratulate Northmont. They had a good game plan and executed it well,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton who was not happy with his team's offensive effort. “This was one of the worst offensive exhibitions we've had since I've been here. It better get better by next week or we'll be short lived in the playoffs.”
He pointed out that the blocked punt was not characteristic of his team. Wayne blocked a Northmont field goal in the second quarter before the Thunderbolts turned the tables on the Warriors by blocking the punt.
“We've been playing well on special teams. It was 14-7 when we got the first safety and after the second one it was 14-11 but we couldn't get the ball into the end zone. You have to be able to do that in order to win championships,” Minton added. “Our defense was ready to play tonight, but not our offense.”
Northmont's victory over Wayne was its first since 2009.
“Tonight's score is kind of ironic,” Schneider added. “One year we played Piqua here and we thought we had to win to get into the playoffs but we lost 14-11 and got in anyway. Tonight we beat Wayne by the same score and they still made the playoffs.”
Wayne 00 00 07 04 – 11
Northmont 00 00 14 00 – 14
Northmont: Punt by Collin Belcher blocked by Blake Harper recovered by Kyle Webster for touchdown. Cody Rice kick. 7-0
Wayne: Kenny Best 4-yard run. Collin Belcher kick. 7-7
Northmont: Jalen Christian 13-yard run. Cody Rice kick. 14-7
Wayne: Safety. 14-9
Wayne: Safety. 14-11