CLAYTON — Northmont improved to 2-1 overall with a hard-fought 10-7 come from behind victory against visiting Lakota East, which fell to 1-2, on Hall of Fame Night at Northmont Stadium.
Scott Klawonn, Jason Taylor, Rueben Victoria, Matt Prichard and Dr. Michael Barrow, MD were inducted into the Northmont Football Hall of Fame during a ceremony prior to the game at midfield.
Despite both teams monikers there wasn’t a whole lot of thunder going on other than big defensive plays.
Lakota East took a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter on a five play, 58 yard drive capped by a one yard touchdown run by senior running back Tyler VanFossen with 3:26 remaining in the half. The Thunderhawks senior was the team’s workhorse. He carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards and also handled the kicking duties (punting, kickoffs and extra-points).
VanFossen’s touchdown staked Lakota East to a 7-0 halftime lead.
Northmont’s offense operated the entire first quarter without quarterback Brenden Reck. Instead, the Thunderbolts utilized senior Jabari Perkins and Donavin Wallace at quarterback. Neither player threw a pass, but instead took shotgun snaps and ran the ball.
Reck completed 12 of 25 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown to help lead the Thunderbolts to victory.
Northmont didn’t crack the scoreboard until Nick Winchester kicked a 24 yard field goal with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter. Winchester’s field goal capped a 12 play, 66 yard drive that took 4:07 off the clock and cut the Thunderhawks’ lead to 7-3.
Winchester kept the Thunderhawks pinned deep in their own territory all night. All of his kickoffs went into or over the end zone for touchbacks and his punts were equally as good. His first punt of the game was a true work of art. After Northmont’s first drive stalled at the Lakota East 46 Winchester’s punt landed near the right hash marks and bounced towards the sideline and went out of bounds at the two yard line. You can’t ask for anything better than that.
On Lakota East’s next possession after Winchester’s field goal the Northmont defense stepped up to stuff the Thunderhawks. VanFossen picked up two yards on first down. Quarterback Dylan Fry picked up a yard on the next play and then tossed an incomplete pass and the Thunderhawks were forced to punt.
Garrett McGough returned VanFossen’s punt one yard to give the Thunderbolts the ball at Lakota East’s 43 yard line. On first down East jumped offside to move the ball to the 38. Reck kept the ball on the next play to give Northmont at first down at the 32. Kelynn Taylor took a handoff and gained seven yards but a penalty moved the ball back to the 41 yard line. Reck dropped back to pass and found Jabari Perkins wide open for a 41 yard touchdown with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter. Winchester added the point after to give Northmont a 10-7 lead.
Northmont passed up a 40 yard field goal attempt and 43 yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter despite having one of the best, if not the best, kicker in the conference.
“We just looked at it and figured it we kicked it it would just be 13-7, so we just went for it,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “In each situation it would have only made it 13-7. When we got that great punt return we talked about kicking it there but we just threw it into the end zone.”
Instead the game came down to a final drive by Lakota East that had fans on the edge of their seats. On fourth down and 13 at the Thunderhawks 26 Northmont went for the first down and failed to convert. Lakota East mounted a last ditch drive from its 26 to the Northmont 24 that lasted 3:20 that proved to be a nail biter for the home fans.
The Thunderhawks drove to the Northmont 22 for a first down with less than a minute to play. Fry dropped back to pass and got sacked by Alex Birt and Ervin Besingi at the 29. On the next play Cameron Rucker broke up a pass in the end zone that would have been right on the money. Fry dropped back to pass and got flushed out of the pocket. He broke five tackles before Devin Kenerly tackled him at the 24.
With 12 seconds left Lakota East snapped the ball to Fry. He fumbled the shotgun snap, scooped up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw a desperation pass that sailed out of the end zone to give Northmont the ball with two seconds left on the clock.
“Lakota East is a great team,” Broering said. “Like I said in my pregame interview, I’ve known their coach Rick Haynes since I was kid when he used to coach in Springfield. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his program. I know how good Lakota East is and how tough it is to beat them. So the series with them is now four games and 2-2 or something like that.”
Next week the Thunderbolts will renew their rivalry with Vandalia-Butler, a team the Thunderbolts have not played since 2007. Northmont won that game 41-7. In 2006 the Thunderbolts beat the Aviators 31-24 in overtime and in 2005 won 42-9.
Next week’s game will be played on Thursday at Butler and will be broadcast live on FOX 45.
“The kids are very excited about that game,” Broering added. “To me it will be a new experience. I’ve never been here for the Northmont vs Vandalia stuff, but the kids are very excited about it and the alumni are very excited about it as well as the administration. Some of my coaches played against Butler and are in the Hall of Fame, so they are amped up and ready to start work now for that game. I’ve been involved in some big rivalries in my career when I was at Piqua and we played against Troy and when I was at Springfield South and played Springfield North and Wayne, so I know what we have to do with the players and how you have to handle the situation. It will be fun for the community and I’m excited for both Vandalia and the Northmont community.”
Kelynn Taylor fights for yardage against Lakota East. Taylor led Northmont with 12 carries for 68 yards.
Logan Jewsikow (56), Danny Lewis (8) and Garret McGough gang tackle Lakota East quarterback Andrew Jaeger.
Jabari Perkins makes a catch over the middle to give Northmont a first down deep in Lakota East territory. Perkins made five receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind