Even without their star running back, the Northmor football team looked like a juggernaut Friday night against visiting Elgin.
The Golden Knights forced six turnovers and made the Comets surrender the ball once on downs in earning a 43-0 blowout win over their Marion County opponents.
“That’s impressive,” said head coach Scott Armrose of his team’s defensive performance. “Coach (Dave) Morgan does such a good job with the defense and defensive plan. I couldn’t be more proud of our defensive unit.”
That unit shut down the Elgin offense and, whenever it seemed the Comets were about to get something going, found a way to rip the ball away from their assortment of running backs.
The first turnover happened on the second play from scrimmage, as Northmor forced a fumble and got the ball on the Comet 43. After a short run by Wyatt Reeder, the Golden Knights got a screen pass from Hunter Mariotti to Gavin Ramos that the senior receiver turned into a 39-yard touchdown to give his team a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Elgin would then move the ball to the 50 before being unable to convert a fourth down to give the ball back to Northmor. Passes from Mariotti to Ramos and Bryce Downard, as well as a Comet penalty, got the ball to the Elgin 10. Two plays later, Mariotti called his own number and ran eight yards for a score. Max Lower added a two-point conversion run and the locals led 14-0 with 5:38 left in the opening period.
Northmor would add one more touchdown in the first. After forcing another quick fumble, the team took possession of the ball on the Elgin 38. On the fifth play of the drive, Reeder took the ball and went 25 yards for six more points. Nate Ruhl’s extra point gave the Golden Knights a 21-0 lead.
“We were able to capitalize on mistakes,” said Armrose. “Quick scores after turnovers can demoralize a team.”
Elgin looked like they might get on the board on their next drive, as they moved the ball from their 31 to the Northmor 35. However, facing third-and-13, pressure on the quarterback forced a throw right into the hands of Brandon Planey, who ran it back 60 yards to boost the team’s lead to 28-0.
After forcing yet another fumble deep in their own territory, the Golden Knights punctuated a dominant first half with an 85-yard scoring pass from Mariotti to Blake Miller to ensure the second half would start with a running clock.
That first half was a welcome sight for Armrose, who will be without the services of first team All-Ohioan Conor Becker, who rushed for over 2000 yards last year, indefinitely. While the coach said there is a chance Becker will return at some point, depending on what his doctor says, he noted that his team still has a lot of veteran players who can make things happen.
“We have 15 seniors and lots of depth,” he said. “We miss Conor tremendously, but we moved a lot of guys around. Wyatt Reeder was a wide receiver and we moved him to running back and he did a nice job.”
In the second half, Northmor forced two more fumbles and scored the only points of those two shortened quarters when Garrett Corwin reached the end zone on a 16-yard run and Tyler Boggs added a two-point conversion run.
Armrose noted that picking up a season-opening win is a big mental boost for his club.
“It’s a great mental thing — especially for me,” he said, adding that his team got some good preparation for the regular season with some challenging scrimmages. “Elgin’s a pretty good football team that’s going to win some games. I thought we did a good job executing our game plan.”
Mariotti completed 6-of-10 passes for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns to only one interception, with Miller having one reception for 85 yards and Ramos catching four for 55. Reeder added 68 rushing yards on only seven opportunities, as Northmor outgained their opponents 290-229 and held a six-to-one turnover edge.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS