CLAYTON — Northmont scored a 25-7 victory Friday over Springfield to end the Wildcats undefeated season. The Thunderbolts dominated the game with a determined defense that limited Springfield to only one first down the entire first half.
“We’ve got a really good defense with a lot of talent,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “We upped the intensity all week and we played one-on-one against our offense, which got us on our toes so the offense did a great job to help us get prepared.”
With the win Northmont improves to 6-1 while the Wildcats fell to 6-1 overall.
Broering said his defense was focused on shutting down the Wildcats’ running backs Tavion Smoot and Jeff Toliver. Northmont limited Springfield to 99 yards rushing. Northmont moved Jestin Jacobs from outside linebacker to defensive end and Eli Newburg to outside linebacker. With Jacobs playing rush end with Gabe Newburg at the other defensive end position it gave Springfield trouble.
Jacobs also played running back and broke off a 59 yard touchdown run. He carried the ball six times and ended the night as Northmont’s leading rusher with 80 yards.
The first quarter ended in a scoreless deadlock. On the first play of the second quarter Northmont quarterback Miles Johnson (14-28, 185 yards, two TDS, two interceptions) threw a 24 yard touchdown pass to Drake Hickman. Brandon Goodwin’s kick put Northmont up 7-0 with 11:52 remaining in the first half.
Goodwin kicked a 28 yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0 with 8:10 left in the half. On the ensuing kickoff Michael Brown-Stephens scooped up a short kick at the 10 and then ran to his right and toward his own goal line to avoid getting tackled. Andrew Knick chased him into the end zone and made the tackle for a safety to boost the Thunderbolts’ lead to 12-0 at the 7:59 mark.
Springfield finally got a break with 2:30 left in the first half when Larry Stephens got past Northmont’s secondary and Raheim Moss threw a perfect pass to hit him in stride as he streaked down the right sideline for a 66 yard touchdown. Braeden Carey’s kick cut Northmont’s lead to 12-7 at halftime.
Moss came into the game with a bad ankle, and Broering knew that was a factor.
“He is good, but I think he was a little hobbled,” Broering noted.
Moss left the game for a few series when his ankle injury flared up. Moss completed seven of 18 pass attempts for 98 yards with one TD and two interceptions. Shaun Myers picked off one pass in the first quarter to give Northmont the ball at its own 41. On third and eight Springfield returned the favor when Moses Douglass picked off a Johnson pass to give the Wildcats the ball at their own 13.
The second half belonged to Northmont. With 3:35 remaining in the third quarter Johnson threw a slant pass to Hickman who raced past Springfield’s defensive secondary for a 60 yard touchdown. Goodwin’s kick boosted the lead to 19-7.
Springfield mounted a drive into Northmont territory late in the third quarter. On second and two Moss threw a deep pass that was intercepted by Christian Cvetnic in the end zone and returned to the 29 yard line. Michael Franklin carried the ball twice to give Northmont a first down at its 41. On the first play of the fourth quarter Jestin Jacobs broke off 59 yard touchdown run with 11:50 left. The extra point snap was botched but the Thunderbolts held a solid 25-7 lead that would stand.
“We knew Raheim Moss would get loose a little bit and throw one up, which he did. We just tried to contain him,” Broering said. “This win meant a lot for our boys. They know how important it is for our program. Springfield was undefeated and we talked about how this game was a chance for us to get a lot of playoff points and maybe give us a shot of hosting a home playoff game, which we haven’t done in a long time.”
Most of Springfield’s coaching staff played for Broering when he was the head coach at the former Springfield South High School.
“The kids knew this game was important to me, so they played their hearts out. I am so proud of our guys on defense. They played great,” he said.
After the loss to Wayne the players and coaches went back to square one.
“It has been a renewed commitment to going back to how we were in the summer, not just the boys but the coaches too,” Broering stated. “I have been pretty hard on them and they have responded; both the boys and the coaches. I have a great coaching staff and they deserve a lot of the credit. They put together a fantastic game plan. That switch, putting Eli Newburg at outside linebacker and getting Jestin Jacobs up to defensive end created a lot of problems for Moss.”
Broering said the loss to Wayne taught the team a lesson.
“We used that loss to learn that you can’t get complacent and that you can’t believe all the hype,” he added. “We were kind of like, ‘Oh yeah, we are great,’ and that type of stuff. Now we are back to grinding it and working hard every day. You heard the boys teasing me about how hard Thursday’s practice was, and it was hard. The last two Thursdays we practiced very, very hard so the boys deserve a lot of credit. That defense tonight was amazing. It does feel good to beat an undefeated team. Really, I am most happy for the community because I think we have a chance now, if we just keep our heads on straight, to host a playoff game. I really want that to happen.”
Next week the Thunderbolts travel to Centerville to face an Elks team in search of its first victory.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind