Indians finish season with win over Northmor
By ROB HAMILTON
A second-half surge allowed Mount Gilead to finish their football campaign on a positive note, as they topped Northmor 20–12 on a cold, rainy night.
The host Indians scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to break a 6–6 tie and then held on for the win to finish 2–8, 2–7 in league play. Northmor’s season ends with a 2–8 record, 1–8 in league play.
After throwing an interception on their first drive of the third quarter, Mount Gilead got the ball back on the Knight 35 after Northmor failed on a fourth-and-one conversion attempt.
Four short runs moved the ball to the 24 and Payton Vanderkooi then connected with Michael Bland for a 10-yard gain.
Tyler Bashaw would then come up with two big plays. On first down, he rushed for nine yards to get the ball to the Knight five. On the next play, Bland took the ball near the goal line, but fumbled. However, Bashaw fell on the loose ball in the end zone to give Mount Gilead a 12–6 advantage.
The Indians then forced a three-and-out and recovered the ensuing punt on their 30. Bland ran for 11 yards and Bashaw then broke a carry for a 48-yard gain. On the next play, Bland scored from 11 yards out to make the score 18–6. Bland then ran the ball in for a two-point conversion that gave the Indians a 14-point lead.
“We just did a better job of holding on to the ball (in the second half),” said Mount Gilead coach Steve Ringer. “Playing in these conditions is tough, but we were able to capitalize on turnovers and hit some big plays. At the end of the day, our kids left it on the field.”
Ringer added that his team made some adjustments at halftime to take advantage of what Northmor was doing on defense.
“We noticed that when running one of our favorite plays, they stopped it pretty well,” he said. “So we made adjustments, the line blocked great, the backs hit the hole hard and we capitalized when we needed to.”
In the fourth quarter, the Knights tried to fight back, but a pair of turnovers helped the Indians stay in front throughout the period.
A 26-yard pass from Zach Carroll to Mitchell Whisler moved the ball into Indian territory at the 43 for the Knights, but after a few Tyler Beck runs moved the ball inside the 30, the drive ended with a turnover.
Bashaw picked off a Carroll pass to give the ball back to the Indians.
Northmor would get the ball back after forcing a three-and-out and this time, they scored. A 41-yard run by Carroll took the ball down to Mount Gilead’s 14. Three carries by Beck led to a four-yard scramble by Carroll to make the score 20–12 with 6:13 to play.
Unfortunately for the Knights, they were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion attempt, keeping them eight points behind their hosts.
The Indians ate three minutes off the clock on their next possession before punting and giving the ball to Northmor on their own 19 with 3:19 to play.
The Knights made it near midfield, but a fumbled snap gave the ball back to Mount Gilead and allowed the Indians to run the final moments off the clock to preserve the win.
Neither team could take an advantage in the first half, as both squads scored once. Late in the first quarter, Mount Gilead took possession on a Northmor fumble and gained 15 yards down to the Knight 33 thanks to a penalty.
From there, they methodically drove into the red zone on the legs of Bland, Bashaw, Vanderkooi and Kolby Fisher before Bashaw scored on a 14-yard run on the first place of the second period to give his team a 6–0 lead.
Northmor immediately bounced back, though. Jamie Baldridge returned the kick to the Knight 47 and Beck handled the rest of the duties. After runs of 12 and six yards, the Knight senior scored on a 35-yard run to tie things up at six points each.
Neither team threatened for the remainder of the first half, as both teams turned the ball over once in the final minutes of the second quarter.
However, a strong third quarter would give the Indians a big enough lead to carry them the rest of the way as they finish their season with a win.
Ringer noted that he wanted his squad to make some positive memories as they finished off their season — or, in the case of his seniors, their careers.
“We talked before the game about how it’s special for these boys to have an opportunity to do that (finish with a win),” he said. “Your last football game is one you’ll never forget, so we told them, ‘Let’s go out and make this a memory you will like.”