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Knights stay unbeaten with decisive win over Norse

Southwood's Carson Rich (left) catches a pass while being defended by a Northfield defender during Friday's game.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

While it’s often said records can be thrown out in rivalry games, Friday night’s gridiron showdown between Northfield and Southwood played out in a way most expected.

The Class A No. 7 Knights, entering not only unbeaten on the season but winners of 17 straight regular season games, came in riding high while the Norse entered winless and on the heels of one of its worst losses in years.

The result was a dominant effort from the hosts Southwood as Northfield managed just 36 first-half yards as the Knights cruised relatively unscathed to a 20-6 win.

 

Change was the calling card on the night for both sides. For Northfield, a new backfield saw Clayton Tomlinson line up under center for the first time this season with Jarret Shafer starting behind him at running back. While Tomlinson would eventually move back to wide receiver in the second half, Northfield head coach Brandon Baker saw some positives from his side on a night where the Norse largely struggled.

Southwood also saw a change at quarterback as Alex Farr, who entered the year as the starter before going out with a concussion the opening drive of the season, returned to his spot under center this week. The junior finished with 169 total yards and two touchdowns with an interception on the day.

The Norse looked prime for a perfect start, blocking a punt on the first Southwood drive of the game and recovering it at the Knight 40-yard line. But the first play of the ensuing drive saw a botched handoff between Tomlinson and Shafer lead to a fumble the Knights recovered.

Again, though, the Northfield defense responded, picking off Farr in the endzone to regain possession. Back-to-back penalties cost the Norse 20 yards on the next drive and forced a punt. Southwood again drove right at the Norse, reaching the five-yard line after Farr hit Carson Heath for 11 yards on fourth down. The Norse bent but didn’t break, holding firm and stonewalling the Knights to take over after a fourth-down stop. The offense would continue to sputter as another three-and-out followed by a solid punt return from Mason Yentes set up the Knights in Norse territory.

Farr did his damage through the air, connecting with Gabe Lloyd, Ty Roser and Carson Rich on three consecutive attempts to reach the goal line before Lloyd plunged in from a yard out.

Northfield’s offensive woes only continued in the half and Southwood eventually tacked on a second score late in the half. After a 33-yard scramble from Farr took Southwood into Norse territory, Dawson Filip would make the play of the night for the second score, corraling a ball batted by the Northfield defenders for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds remaining.

In the first half, Northfield finished with more penalty yards (41) than total yards of offense (36).

While the Northfield offense was livelier in the second half, Southwood struck first as Farr and Rich hooked up for a 22-yard pass-and-catch to give the hosts a 20-0 advantage.

The Norse would move the ball into Knight territory each of the next two drives before turning it over on downs in both instances but continued to hold firm defensively. The lone scoring drive for Northfield started on its own 33-yard line and lasted 10 plays with most of the damage coming in the air. An 18-yard pass to Tomlinson and a 17-yard pass to Alex Haupert put the Norse on the edge of the redzone and a 16-yard hookup with Tomlinson again took the guests to the goalline where Fulkerson scored from four yards out to close the gap to 20-6.

By then, though, just 3:36 remained in the contest. Northfield’s ensuing onside kick would be unsuccessful and while Southwood turned the ball over on downs late, Fulkerson would be picked off by Conner Rich to ice the game. Northfield finished with 191 yards of offense with 155 of those coming in the second half. Neither the passing game (93 yards) nor the rushing game (98 yards) broke the century mark on the night, though.

 

 

Zebras’ running game, offensive line leads to win over Manchesterby Val Tsoutsouris/The Sentinel

What Bryce Abbott wants, Bryce Abbott gets.

With the Rochester football team leading Manchester 7-6 with 7:14 left in the first half at Barnhart Field Friday, Manchester quarterback Devin Marcum threw a pass in the right flat to receiver Trey Clark. Clark gained six yards, saw a bevy of RHS defenders converging upon him and put two arms on the ball. Abbott, RHS’ senior inside linebacker, reached and in and ripped the ball loose and fell on the fumble at the RHS 36.

The Zebras then embarked on a seven-play, 64-yard drive that Landon Kelly capped off with a 14-yard touchdown run.

RHS went on to win 24-13 to improve to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Three Rivers Conference, and Abbott’s effort might have been symbolic for what he provides for the Zebras.

He ran for 117 yards from his fullback spot while also drawing attention from the Squires for his defensive work.

Abbott was just one prong on a three-pronged rushing attack. RHS had 404 yards of total offense – 386 yards rushing, 18 yards passing. Isaiah Jackson had a team-high 167 yards on the ground, and Kelly had 92 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.

RHS’ first offensive possession was a seven-play drive – all seven plays were runs – that Kelly capped off with a 13-yard touchdown run on a counter.

Their second touchdown drive consisted of six runs and a 12-yard screen pass from Nick Allen to Jackson that resulted in a first down before Kelly eventually scored.

Their third touchdown possession, which came to start the second half, consisted of seven plays, all runs. Abbott stormed along the left side for a 33-yard run to highlight that drive, which Jackson finished by following lead blocker Abbott from the 2-yard line.

Their fourth scoring drive resulted in Wade Shafer’s field goal, a 22-yarder with 11:15 left in the game. The field goal was the first RHS field goal since Zane Duff kicked a 38-yarder against North Miami on Sept. 15, 2017. That drive was 11 plays, all runs.

And after Manchester closed the gap to 24-13 and Marshall Fishback stopped Marcum for a 2-yard loss on fourth down from the RHS 5 with 3:36 left, the Zebras went on a nine-play drive – all nine plays were runs – and drove 88 yards to run out the clock. Jackson had five carries for 50 yards by himself on that drive, including a game-clinching seven-yard run that sealed the win.

 

As for Manchester (1-3, 1-2 TRC), Seth Gaerte led the way with seven catches for 182 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Seth Martindale had a 2-yard touchdown run.

 

Apaches score late for TRC winby Trent Scott/Peru Tribune

The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Tigers, who had a delay of game penalty before taking their first offensive snap and were held on 4th-and-4, giving the ball over to the Apaches on the hosts’ 49-yard line. Wabash would go on a 12-play drive, picking up three first downs and getting as close as the Peru seven-yard line but came away empty after Grant Carandante missed a 24-yard field goal narrowly to the left.

The Tigers would go three-and-out and a very short punt left the Apaches on the hosts’ 28-yard line yet a false start call helped to derail the drive as Peru forced a turnover on downs. After punting again, the Tigers got a break when Brayden Masters intercepted Payton Sodervick and on the next snap, Michael Chandler hit Daunte Majors for a 24-yard touchdown to move the hosts ahead 6-0 with nine minutes to play in the second quarter.

Following a Wabash punt, Masters rattled off a 31-yard run and two plays later Chandler scooted 25 yards for six to double the Peru lead to 13-0. The Apaches steadied themselves as Sodervick hit Bryant Boggs for a 76-yard score, reducing the deficit to 13-6.

A big Majors run was wiped out by a holding penalty that would eventually lead to a punt and the visitors moved quickly up the field, gaining 49 yards in four plays before a pair of incompletions, a sack and an interception off a trick play by Masters seemed to give the Tigers the edge heading into the break with only 30 seconds left in the first half.

Chandler, however, threw an interception of his own to Keegan O’Neill, who had thrown the interception one play prior, giving Wabash a second chance to tie the game before halftime. It was a chance the Apaches would cash in on as Sodervick hit Boggs again, this time for 29 yards, to tie the game at 13-13 heading into the break.

Wabash rode the legs of Kallen Kelsheimer to start the second half, working a 10-play drive coming out of halftime that finished with Kelsheimer rumbling for 41 yards to give the visitors their first lead of the game at 20-13. Peru answered swiftly as Masters hit a crease for 59 yards to tie the game at 20-20 barely a minute after the Apache score.

A pair of sacks stunted the next drive for the visitors and a good Majors return on the ensuing punt set up the hosts at their own 44-yard line. Peru would drive down to the Wabash two-yard line with 1st-and-Goal but could not get the ball into the endzone, eventually settling for a 24-yard Zach Johnson field goal to retake the lead at 23-20.

Sodervick would then lose the ball on a bad option pitch that Tiger Matt Ross recovered but again the hosts could not put the ball in the endzone, relying on a 36-yard Johnson field goal to increase the lead to 26-20 with 5:10 to play in the contest. A pass interference penalty on Peru got the next Wabash drive going while Kelsheimer picked up 25 yards on the ground on four carries.

The runs helped set up one more Sodervick-to-Boggs hookup for 32 yards and a score to put the Apaches in the lead 27-26 with 2:06 to play. Kade Townsend took the ensuing kickoff to the Wabash 48-yard line and Majors took the first snap for 10 yards on a counter play but another holding penalty stymied the Tigers momentum and the game was put to rest when Levi Strong was intercepted deep in Apache territory in the last 70 seconds of play.