CLAYTON — Lebanon scored 35 unanswered points to overcome a 14 point deficit to hand Northmont its second consecutive loss, 35-14.
The Thunderbolts had success early running the ball directly at the Warriors marching 67 yard on 11 plays culminating the drive with a 4 yard touchdown pass by Brenden Reck to Kameron Mathis. Nick Winchester tacked on the extra-point to take a 7-0 lead with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter.
Northmont’s defense stuffed Lebanon on its ensuing possession to force a Warriors punt. Lebanon’s punt rolled dead at the Thunderbolts’ 31. From there Northmont marched 69 yards in eight plays with Devin Kenerly diving into the end zone on 1 yard run. Winchester’s extra-point put the Thunderbolts up 14-0 with 11:57 remaining in the first half.
After that the wheels fell off for Northmont as Lebanon came storming back to take control of the game.
Lebanon’s offense woke up in a hurry. On their next possession the Warriors engineered a 12 play, 80 yard drive highlighted by a 34 yard pass from Derrick Allen to Zach Barsala on third and five at its own 37 to give the Warriors a first down at the Thunderbolts’ 29. On third and 18 Allen came up with another big pass to Jordan Campbell for a first down at the 19. On second and goal from the eight Allen hit Barsala for a touchdown with 6:40 left in the half. Zander Haley’s kick cut Northmont’s lead to 14-7.
Northmont clung to that lead at the half, but the second half belong to the Warriors. Lebanon reeled off 28 unanswered points to walk away with a 35-15 victory to improve to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in division play while Northmont fell to 3-3 and 0-1.
“We executed our normal game plan. We felt like we could run the ball on them so that’s what we did,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “Like I told the boys, they are a good team. Lebanon is the real deal. They are 5-1 and have beaten some good teams. They beat Beavercreek and Springfield, so we knew they were really good. I told the guys, every week is going to come down to a play here and there. We didn’t make those plays and they did, so it’s tough. The boys played hard and I am proud of their effort. The coaches did a good job preparing us and we were ready for what they we doing, but they just executed it very well.”
Indeed, the Warriors cut Northmont’s lead to one point on their first possession of the second half with a seven play, 76 yard drive that took only one minute and 38 seconds. Six of the seven plays were passes, the last of which resulted in a 6 yard touchdown to Eli Ruggles. The point after attempt was no good as the Thunderbolts clung to a 14-13 lead with 8:11 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors would make up for the missed extra-point later in the game. Lebanon boosted its lead to 19-14 on its next possession with a 13 play, 55 yard drive with Dakota Allen scoring a 4 yard quarterback keeper. The two point conversion failed.
Early in the fourth quarter Northmont’s punt return team made a major blunder by signaling for a fair catch at the 10 and then letting the ball bounce off the turf. Lebanon downed the ball at the half-yard line. Two plays later the Warriors tackled Kelynn Taylor in the end zone for a safety to take a 21-14 lead.
Part of the punishment for being trapped for a safety requires you to kick the ball back to your opponent, and Lebanon took full advantage of the free kick. The Warriors returned the kick 26 yards to its own 47 and drove 53 yards in five plays to score on a 14 yard pass from Allen to Barsala. Haley’s kick was good to boost the Warriors’ lead to 28-14 with 5:31 remaining.
With time waning Northmont was forced to go for a first down on fourth and 10 from its own 22. The pass fell incomplete with Lebanon taking over on downs. On first down Lebanon put the final nail in the coffin as Dawson Wolf ran straight up the middle for a 22 yard touchdown. Haley’s kick made the final tally, 35-14.
Northmont will look to get back into the win column after suffering back-to-back losses when it hosts Springfield (4-2) for Homecoming this Friday. The Homecoming Parade will be held at 6 p.m. on Union Boulevard starting at Wenger Road and culminating in Centennial Park with a bonfire and pep rally.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind