CENTERVILLE — After taking a 17-0 lead Friday at Centerville a series of bad decisions on the field and on the sideline resulted in the Elks rallying to post a 24-23 come from behind victory over Northmont on Senior Night.
For the second week in a row Northmont held the lead at halftime and for the second week in a row the Thunderbolts went for it on fourth down inside field goal range and failed to convert. Two weeks in a row the opponent gained momentum after stopping the Thunderbolts on fourth down to score go-ahead touchdowns.
Leading 17-6 at halftime the wheels began to fall off Northmont’s wagon right away when play resumed in the third quarter. For starters Northmont opted to return the second half kickoff instead of letting it go into the end zone and Thunderbolts ended up pinned back at their own six yard line. Centerville forced Northmont to punt and took over at the 50. Eight plays later Alec Grandin scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper to cut the Thunderbolts’ lead to 17-12. A two point conversion failed after the score.
Northmont took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the Elks’ 26. Instead of attempting a 43 yard field goal the Thunderbolts went for it on fourth and 14 and failed to convert. Centerville took over on downs and drove 74 yards in six plays with Mason Kuhr scoring on a nine yard run. A two point conversion failed but the Elks took an 18-17 lead with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Thunderbolts had Lady Luck on their side on their next possession. On third and 31 at the Elks’ 41 yard line Brenden Reck threw a deep pass that deflected off the hands of Tyree Trammell and right into the grasp of Jabari Perkins who was running a deep route just behind him. Perkins caught the ball and tumbled into the end zone with 10:31 remaining in the game. Northmont went for a two-point conversion and Reck delivered the ball on target but the pass was dropped as the Thunderbolts held a 23-18 advantage.
Unfortunately the lead would not hold up. On second down and nine from the Elks’ 21 Grandin hit Donovan Shelton with a 36 yard pass completion for a first down at the Northmont 42. Grandin then completed a pass to Jack Meade for a first down at the 11. Jake Spiewak caught a Grandin pass to set up a third and two at the three yard line. Grandin kept the ball on the next play and made it to the one for a first and goal and from there running back Mason Kuhr dove into the end zone with what would prove to be the winning touchdown with 7:24 remaining. Northmont intercepted the two-point conversion pass to keep it a one point ball game.
On their final possession of the game the Thunderbolts were forced to punt and the Elks took over at their own 48 with 5:34 remaining. Centerville put together a clock killing, 11 play drive that ended at the Northmont seven to secure the victory.
“It is very difficult to win at Centerville,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “I’ve been playing them since 1991 and it’s very difficult. I have beat them here before, but it’s tough to do.”
He attributed the loss to bad decisions on special teams.
“We’ve put ourselves in these terrible situations where not half the playbook is closed, but three-fourths of it is closed because we have the ball on the two,” Broering said. “It’s very difficult to execute what we want to do from our own two yard line and we have done it multiple weeks, so it makes it tough to dig out of there and then you give your opponent the ball on the 50 to start the half and that is a huge shift in the momentum.”
Northmont defers whenever it wins the coin toss so it can get the second half kickoff and hopefully score to increase its lead, but tonight it didn’t pan out.
“Tonight if we had scored to open the second half it would have been a big lead. Instead we had a miscue and had to punt and gave it back to them at the 50 and they scored, so that made the whole game different,” Broering noted. “It is the little things that add up. The kids tried hard and did their best and I am proud of them.”
Broering was hoping his defense would stop the Elks on their final possession. He said he had hoped to get into field goal range and let Nick Winchester kick the winning field goal.
“Nick has been our MVP all year. He is a great kicker and a great punter, a scholarship kicker. He is awesome,” Broering added. “If we could have got the ball back our plan was to get the ball down the field and into field goal range and let him win the game, but we just couldn’t stop them.”
Northmont also did a lot of things right, especially in the first half. The Thunderbolts stopped the Elks on their first possession and Jabari Perkins returned the punt 39 yards to the Centerville 16 yard line. Jevon Henderson, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 260 pound defensive lineman came up with a big sack to set up a third down and 17 at the 23. A screen pass fell incomplete and Northmont passed up a possible 40 yard field goal attempt and went for it on fourth down. A pass into the end zone was too long and the Elks took over on downs, but Northmont’s defense forced a punt on fourth and one. The punt was shanked and only went seven yards before going out of bounds to give the Thunderbolts the ball at the Elks’ 39.
A pass completion by Brenden Reck to Kameron Mathis coupled with a penalty against the Elks gave Northmont a first down at the 29. From there Reck tossed a screen pass to Mathis who rumbled 29 yards for the touchdown. Nick Winchester’s kick put the Thunderbolts up 7-0.
Centerville was forced to punt again on its next possession with Northmont taking over at its own 27. On second down and 12 at the 45 Reck dropped back to pass and was forced to scramble. He found daylight and went 55 yards for an apparent touchdown but an illegal block in the back penalty brought the ball back to the Elks’ 42.
On first down Reck completed a pass to Logan Zerkle on the right sideline and Zerkle avoided a couple of tackles before getting forced out at the18. On fourth down and five Winchester came in to kick a 30 yard field goal to boost Northmont’s lead to 10-0 with just over a minute left in the first quarter.
Northmont’s defense came up big on Centerville’s next possession. Jason Zile forced a fumble and Gabe Newburg recovered the ball at the Elks’ 44 yard line as the first quarter came to an end. The Thunderbolts couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt. Winchester made a perfect punt that landed at the five and bounced directly to the sideline and out of bounds to pin the Elks deep.
Centerville was also forced to punt with the ball rolling dead at the Northmont 45. On first down Reck threw a deep pass to Tyree Trammell for a 40 yard gain to the Elks’ 15 yard line. On the next play Reck hit Dominic Wilson with a screen pass and Wilson took the ball into the end zone with six minutes left in the half. Winchester’s point after gave the Thunderbolts a 17-0 lead.
With their backs to the wall the Elks fought back to score their first touchdown of the night. Centerville mounted an eight play, 67 yard drive that culminated in a 23 yard screen pass by Alec Grandin to Donovan Shelton. Newburg blocked the extra-point attempt and Northmont maintained a 17-6 lead at the half.
Brenden Reck rolls out to make a pass as Kelynn Taylor offers blocking protection.
Nick Winchester about to kick a 30 yard field goal to give Northmont a 10-0 lead.
Kameron Mathis on his way to scoring a 29 yard touchdown on a screen pass from Brenden Reck.
Dominic Wilson races for a 15 yard touchdown on a pass from Brenden Reck.
Jabari Perkins falls into the end zone to complete a 41 yard pass reception early in the fourth quarter at Centerville.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind