For nearly the entire first half, host Highland was locked in a defensive struggle with Northmor in a Friday night KMAC football game.
However, when the team got a big interception from Cody Matthews with three minutes to go in the second quarter, the Scot offense was able to put together a 95-yard drive to take an 8-0 lead at the half. Highland would then control the action in the second half and wind up with a 30-6 win that boosted their record to 3-3. Northmor falls to 2-4.
“It was one of those games where we were kind of feeling each other out and waiting to see who makes the first mistake,” said Scot coach Matt Jones. “Fortunately, we got a great play by Cody and after that, we settled down.”
Until that interception and subsequent drive, neither team could manufacture any points. While both squads had some success in driving the ball, those drives tended to stall shortly after crossing midfield.
In the second quarter, though, it looked like the offenses were about to start getting the upper hand. In their first second quarter possession, Highland got a 54-yard run by Landyn Albanese as the team moved from their 17 to the Golden Knight 22 in four plays. However, that drive would stall and they’d turn the ball over on downs.
Northmor gained possession on their 26 and quickly moved into Scot territory behind the strength of Marcus Cortez’ arm. The junior quarterback hit Max Lower for 11 yards and connected with Trenton Ramos for 23 to help the team make it to the 36.
The Golden Knights would drive to the Scot 9, but on third down, Matthews picked off a Cortez pass to give Highland the ball on their own five. Northmor coach Scott Armrose felt that play and Highland’s ensuing drive changed the course of the game.
“It felt like the momentum swung their way and we weren’t able to to get plays to swing the momentum back our way,” he said. “We were inconsistent again. We took care of that last week against Fredericktown and fixed things, but had too many penalties and mistakes tonight.”
When the Scots got the ball back, it took five plays for them to move from the 5 to their 28, but only three more to make it deep into Northmor territory, as Kadin Johnson completed two of three passes for gains of 20 and 38 yards — both to Landon Remmert. Two runs pushed them near the goal line and Johnson scrambled for the final yard with 34 seconds left in the half. Gavin Hankins ran for a two-point conversion and Highland held an 8-0 halftime lead.
Jones felt his team’s defense carried them until the offense was able to break through.
“Our defense was solid the entire night for us,” he said. “They kept us in it early.”
The offense would quickly boost Highland to a 16-point lead early in the third quarter. After taking the kick to their 35, Highland moved the ball into Northmor territory before Johnson called his own number and sprinted 44 yards for six points. Hankins added his second two-point run to give the Scots a 16-0 advantage.
While Northmor had to quickly punt on their first drive of the half, Cortez was able to intercept Johnson to give his team the ball back on the Highland 40. They were able to move the ball to the 17, but a sack drove them back and then Ray was able to intercept Cortez to end that threat.
The Scots would make them pay, getting a 42-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Remmert on the first play of the fourth quarter. Johnson then ran for two to make it 24-0.
Northmor would respond to stay in the game. Taking the ball on their 40, Lower ran three times for 12 yards, but it looked like the drive would stall near midfield. However, facing fourth-and-12, Cortez was able to hook up with Ramos for a 51-yard scoring play to cut their deficit to 24-6 with nearly 9 minutes left in regulation.
It wouldn’t take long for Highland to clinch the win, though. After recovering Northmor’s onside kick attempt, Dane Nauman ran for eight yards and then broke free on his next carry for a 51-yard touchdown run to provide the game’s final points.
Johnson completed 10 passes for 146 yards for Highland and also ran for 102. Nauman added 92 yards on the ground, while Albanese had 66. Remmert caught four passes for 114. Northmor got 116 rushing yards by Lower, who also caught a pair of passes. Cortez hit on 11 passes for 120 yards, with Ramos catching four for 78 and Andrew Armrose adding three catches.
Both teams will now gear up for the postseason. Highland will be at Warsaw River View in a Division IV contest on Saturday, while Northmor will host Loudonville in a Division VI game that same day.
“Number one, we need to heal,” said Armrose. “We’re a little beat up tonight. We’ll see the mistakes on film and correct them. We have a football team with enough talent to make some noise in the playoffs. We just have to stay at it and keep working.”
After breaking a two-game losing streak, Jones feels his team got a much-needed win to give them some momentum heading into this week’s game.
“We needed that,” he said. “Going in right now, that was huge for us. Without a doubt, that’s big.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS