SPRINGBORO — Northmont surrendered too many early touchdowns at Springboro and found itself staring down the barrel of a 21-0 first quarter deficit.
Springboro walked away with a 48-27 victory to improve to 4-1 overall while the Thunderbolts fell to 1-4.
Panthers’ quarterback Elijah Cunningham was virtually unstoppable, completing 21 of 30 pass attempts for 281 yards and six touchdowns. His first touchdown was 16 yards to Alex Feldman a minute and 31 seconds into the game to put Springboro up 7-0. It capped a five play, 70 yard drive that was a portent of things to come.
Nick Kovacs caught 10 pass for 183 yards and three touchdowns and Feldman caught eight passes for 83 yards and three touchdowns.
“Kovacs is a very good football player and Cunningham is a very good quarterback,”said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “It’s tough when you are going against a team that is that good.”
Northmont contributed to its downfall by failing to move the ball on its first possession and Springboro wasted no time scoring again. Starting at their own 47 the Panthers drove 53 yards in nine plays with Cunningham tossing a 6 yard touchdown pass to Nick Kovacs with 6:23 remaining in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead.
Liam Foley balanced the Panthers’ passing game by rushing for 116 yards on 20 carries.
The Thunderbolts failed to move the ball on their next possession and had to punt from deep in their own territory. Feldman returned the punt five yards to Northmont’s 45 and from there the Panthers struck again. The Panthers had two touchdowns called back on penalties on this drive, but after seven plays Cunningham tossed another 16 yard pass to Feldman to put the Panthers up 21-0 with 2:48 remaining in the first quarter.
Ah, but the Thunderbolts were from far from dead. On their first play from scrimmage on their next possession Brenden Reck hit Jabari Perkins for an 80 yard touchdown pass and Nick Winchester’s extra point kick cut the Panthers’ lead to 21-7 with 2:36 left in the opening quarter.
The Northmont defense finally put Springboro in a fourth down and 13 at their own 47 and that’s where the Panthers tried to get tricky. A fake punt back fired with an incomplete pass and Northmont took over on downs at the Panthers’ 47.
Northmont couldn’t move the ball and decided to pull off its own fake punt with the same results. Springboro took over on downs at its own 46.
The Thunderbolts caught a break late in the half when a snap sailed over the Springboro punter’s head. He managed to scoop up the ball and get off a kick, but the ball went out of bounds at the Panthers’ 15 yard line. From there Northmont punched the ball into the end zone on a four yard run by Avery Miliner to cut Springboro’s lead to 21-14 with 3:34 left in the half
Unfortunately the Panthers countered that score with a nine play, 80 yard drive with Cunningham tossing a nine yard touchdown pass to Feldman with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead.
Northmont pulled to within seven points with 6:19 remaining in the third quarter on a 19 yard run by Miliner to cap a 12 play, 80 yard drive to make it 28-21.
“Once we settled down our defense did a nice job for us,” Broering said. “The problem was we kept shooting ourselves in the foot in the first quarter. We kept going three and out and giving them the ball back and you can’t do that against a team like Springboro. Once we kind of got our minds right on offense and we ran the ball, the game was kind of back-and-forth. We got within seven points but we just gave them too big of a head start.”
After the Thunderbolts pulled to within seven Springboro got a field goal and added two more touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
Miliner scored again on a 76 yard run with 6:33 remaining in the game but it was too little too late. Miliner finished the night with 180 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns.
NMT 07 14 21 27 – 27
SPR 21 28 38 48 – 48
Avery Miliner scores on a four yard run to give the Thunderbolts’ their second touchdown against Springboro.
Springboro quarterback Elijah Cunningham runs for a big gain.
Nick Kovacs picks up first down yardage for Springboro after making a pass reception.
Brenden Reck fires a pass completion to Brenden Jewsikow.
Nick Boyd picks up a first down after making a pass reception.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind