Ground game propels Northmor past Ridgedale
By ROB HAMILTON
A potent rushing attack, a timely fourth-quarter defensive stand and a big play on special teams paved the way for Northmor’s first Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference win in some time on Friday.
The Knights, who beat Ridgedale 26–14 in the road contest, had not won a league game since Oct. 13, 2009 (19–0 over Elgin).
Tyler Beck led the team with 186 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while Jamie Baldridge added a score on 128 rushing yards.
Coach B.J. Trainer noted that Ridgedale did a good job taking away their outside rushing game, but weren’t able to contain them inside.
“I think they tried to take away our outside game, but that opened things up off-tackle,” he said. “Our line played really good and opened holes. We didn’t play exceptionally well in the first half, but came out in the second determined to shut the door.”
The first half was controlled by the teams’ offenses, as both squads were able to hold the ball for long periods of time as they drove down the field.
After the Knights opened the game with a drive capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Beck that gave them a 6–0 lead, Ridgedale was forced to punt.
Northmor got the ball on their 20 and moved to the Rocket 25 before a Ridgedale sack caused them to turn the ball over on downs.
This time, the Rockets held the ball for eight minutes in going 62 yards in 14 plays — culminating in a five-yard scoring run by Daniel Payne. A successful point-after kick gave the Rockets a 7–6 lead.
Northmor would quickly regain the advantage, though, getting 40 yards on the ground from Beck and 16 more from Baldridge in driving down the field for what would be a nine-yard scoring run by Beck that gave the Knights a 12–7 lead.
Unfortunately for the locals, Ridgedale was able to answer, getting a 20-yard scoring pass on the final play of the half to take a two-point advantage into the locker room. However, the Knight defense didn’t allow any points in the second half.
“The kids stepped up real well,” said Trainer. “We made a couple adjustments at halftime — not anything huge, but the kids did a nice job executing.”
After forcing a punt on Ridgedale’s first possession, the Knights took the ball on their own nine-yard line.
It wouldn’t take long for them to improve that field position, though. Runs by Beck and Garrett Rowan moved the ball to the 25 and then, in quick succession, Beck ran for 11, Baldridge took a carry for 14 and Beck got the ball again for 21 yards to move the ball into Rocket territory at the 29.
Three plays later, Baldridge took the ball, leapt a defender and dashed 17 yards for a score to give the Knights an 18–14 lead.
It wouldn’t take long for them to add to that margin. The Northmor kickoff was a squib on the ground that wasn’t handled by the Rockets, allowing a Knight player to leap on the ball and give them possession on the Ridgedale 41.
“We noticed a couple of their young men leaving early on the opening kickoff,” said Trainer in explaining his strategy. “Their kid had a chance at it, but it just bounced up and hit him wrong.”
From there, it took Northmor five plays to reach the end zone. A nine-yard run by Beck followed by a conversion pass from Zach Carroll to Baldridge gave Northmor eight points to put them on top by a 12-point margin.
Northmor’s defense handled the rest of the work for the team. Ridgedale moved the ball from their 25 into Northmor territory on their next possession, which stretched into the fourth quarter, but was stopped short of the goal line.
With the ball on the Knight seven, a holding call on Ridgedale moved them back to the 15 on third down and then an incomplete pass and a sack of the Rocket quarterback gave the ball back to the Knights with 10 minutes to play.
From there, Ridgedale only got two more possessions and didn’t make it to midfield on either of them, as Northmor closed out their second win of the season.
One of the things that has most impressed Trainer about his team is their resilience, as they came ready to play Ridgedale after a brutal start to their MOAC schedule that included games with tough Red Division foes North Union, Highland, Buckeye Valley and River Valley.
“The mindset is totally different,” he said. “The kids have worked so hard. We’ll be playing good teams in the second half, but I think we have games where we can match up better than the North Unions, River Valleys and Highlands, who are so fast and physical.”