A second-half outburst led Northmor past Cardington Friday night by a 27-13 score.
The game was tied at 7-7 at the half after a Golden Knight defensive stand caused a 12-play drive that started at the Cardington 17 to wind up five yards shy of the end zone. Northmor took the momentum from that into the second half, where they took the opening kickoff.
Starting from their 45, Northmor rode running back Caleb Schnuerer all the way to the Pirate one. From there, Paul Cramer took it the final yard and Schnuerer added the extra point kick to put the Golden Knights in front 14-7.
The team’s defense then held Cardington to a three-and-out and then got a big special teams play when the Pirate punt attempt was marred by a bad snap. Northmor fell on the ball at the Cardington one and quickly scored on a Schnuerer run to turn a tie game into a two-touchdown lead with 3:50 left in the third.
“It’s been three games in a row we’ve really had to dig deep in the second half and come back from being behind or being even,” said Northmor coach Scott Armrose. “Our boys played with a tremendous amount of guts. It’s just raw determination and refusing to lose. Our depth charts were getting thinner as the game went on because of cramps and they were thin to begin with. We had a lot of guys step up when we needed them to and make plays.”
Cardington would get a long touchdown scramble by Kaiden Beach early in the fourth quarter to close within a 21-13 margin, but the team couldn’t convert a two-point conversion attempt to cut the Northmor lead to six.
From there, the defenses took over. Northmor fumbled on their next possession, but bounced back defensively to get an interception by Schnuerer to take over on the Pirate 20. Cardington held firm to get the ball back on downs with under six to go in the game, but they were unable to move the ball and also turned it over on downs.
This time, Northmor was ready to capitalize. Taking the ball on the Pirate three, they got a short scoring run by Schnuerer to go in front 27-13 with 2:34 left in regulation. After forcing another turnover via downs, the Golden Knights were able to take a couple knees to run out the clock on their win and improve to 4-0, 1-0 in league play.
Cardington coach Ryan Goetzman could easily point out one culprit in his team’s loss — turnovers. The Pirates committed four in the game, while the Golden Knights only had one.
“Yeah, you can’t do that,” said the coach. “They’re a good team and well coached. You can’t do anything but tip your hat to them. They played without (Max) Lower tonight and they played really well. Turnovers are the story of it. We don’t turn the ball over and the outcome is 100 percent different. But unfortunately, we turned the ball over, so tip your hats to them. They did a great job in that aspect and they got us.”
The first turnover helped set up Northmor’s first score. On the game’s opening possession, they fumbled the ball away near midfield and the Golden Knights responded with a 52-yard drive on six plays. Cramer had runs of 11 and 30 on the possession and quarterback A.J. Bower went the final 12 to give his team a 7-0 lead after only two minutes had elapsed.
Armrose noted that while the presence of Lower, who was out with an injury, hurt his team, a lot of other players stepped up.
“You can’t replace #6 with one person,” he said. “I think it literally took four or five people to replace Max and that’s the kind of football player he is. Max is a great football player and phenomenal athlete, but we have a lot of guys who can make plays. We’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve bought in. We had 45 kids in the weight room all summer and worked hard and a lot of guys are getting the opportunity to contribute now.”
Neither team would score again until the second quarter when Cardington would strike early after Beach took the snap and scrambled 47 yards for points. Austin Vails added the PAT to tie things up.
“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who runs and plays with as much heart as he does anywhere else,” said Goetzman. “I’m beyond proud of that kid.”
It would remain tied going into the half, but Northmor was able to make big plays in the second half to pull away for the win.
Cramer ran for 73 yards, while Schnuerer added 69. Bower threw for 32 yards, with Hunter Fulk catching a pair of passes for 20. Of Cardington’s 318 yards of offense, 309 came on the ground with Beach running for 170 and Ayden Plowman adding 74.
“We’ve got to clean stuff up,” said Goetzman. “I would like to think my team looks a lot different tonight than against Elgin. We’ve made strides from week one to two to three to four.”
As for Northmor, Armrose is looking ahead to some tough challenges.
“We still have a long way to go and it doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “Things are going to get tougher. We’re going to see the best team we’ve seen all season in Danville next week.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS