TOLEDO — Northmont’s passing attack took an early toll on Toledo Whitmer on Friday during the Division I, Region II regional quarterfinal at Whitmer High School.
In the end the Panthers running attack was too much to handle as Whitmer rolled to a 35-21 victory. The Panthers gained 337 yards rushing and 435 overall while Northmont amassed 225 total yards with 211 coming on passes.
The Thunderbolts took an early 7-0 lead when senior quarterback Keaton Kesling (15-29, 211 yards, three TDs, two interceptions) threw a 49 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jazz Keys with 9:52 left in the first quarter. Three minutes and 44 seconds later Kesling hit junior Marcus Allen with a 57 yard touchdown and Brandon Goodwin’s second successful point after kick gave Northmont a 14-0 advantage with 6:08 left in the opening quarter.
Whitmer responded by scoring 28 unanswered points with three touchdowns on running plays and the last on a pass. Panthers senior running back Jared Banks (5-feet, 11-inches, 200 pounds), who rushed for 1,777 yards during the regular season did most of the damage by carrying the ball 39 times for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
Banks scored the Panthers first touchdown on a 15 yard run with 3:46 left in the first quarter. Austin Gibbons’ kick cut Northmont’s lead to 14-7. Banks struck again on the first play of the second quarter scoring on a six yard run and scored again on an 11 yard run with 8:18 left in the first half.
Whitmer quarterback Riley Keller capped the first half scoring by tossing a 34 yard touchdown pass to Tre Young to give the Panthers a 28-14 lead at halftime.
Northmont cut the deficit to 28-21 with 3:59 left in the third quarter when Kesling hit Allen with a 31 yard touchdown pass. Goodwin tacked on the extra-point to put the Thunderbolts back in the game.
The Panthers’ final score came on a 21 yard run by Keller with 5:50 left in the game. Northmont’s Jazz Keys returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to give the Thunderbolts a first and goal at the Panthers’ six yard line with a chance to cut the deficit to one touchdown.
Unfortunately the Thunderbolts couldn’t put the ball into the end zone and the game ended with the Panthers walking away with the 35-21 victory.
Whitmer improves to 10-1 overall while Northmont ends its season at 6-5.
Northmont senior quarterback Keaton Kesling concludes an impressive season with 206 completions on 370 pass attempts for 2,991 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Junior wide receiver Marcus Allen caught 51 passes for 1,087 yards with 15 touchdowns. Senior Jazz Keys caught 62 passes for 843 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior Justin Golson hauled in 49 passes for 681 yards and five touchdowns.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email at Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind