SCIOTOVILLE — The East Tartans home opener wasn't quite what they had hoped for. In Friday's game, the Northwest Mohawks ripped a hole in the Tartan defense and saw Luke Brown run through it for 169 yards on 17 carries.
Brown had managed just 37 yards on the ground in week one, but managed to eclipse that mark with just his first carry in week two.
Brown took the ball from the Tartan 41-yard-line and carried it all the way into the end zone for his first of four touchdowns.
East responded to the Mohawks' score on their next drive, marching the ball down to the Northwest five-yard-line. However, the Tartans were unable to convert on a fourth-and-one and turned the ball over on downs. The Mohawks took over on offense and shocked the Tartans crowd by traveling 95-yards and scoring with another long Luke Brown run.
East went into the locker room trailing 13-0, and came out determined to turn the game around.
East forced a fumble on the Mohawks' third offensive play of the half and Nathan Bradford recovered it for the Tartans. Running back Austin Elrod finished the drive off with an eight-yard touchdown run that put the Tartans on the board. East converted a two point conversion and closed the deficit to just six points.
However, Northwest struck back immediately when Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. Northwest then converted on its own two-point conversion.
East kept the pressure on as Elrod ran for another touchdown on the next drive. East quickly forced the Mohawks to punt and, on their next possession, took a gamble by going for it on fourth-and-inches from their own 34-yard-line.
The gamble appeared to backfire as quarterback Justin Crager took the ball on a quarterback sneak and seemed to be stopped short. However, being stalled in the pile for a moment Crager managed to break completely free and ran 64-yards for a touchdown.
East dominated the third quarter and finished it with a bang when T.J. Taylor picked off Northwest quarterback T.J. Knittel.
East carried the momentum into the fourth quarter on their next drive as they began marching down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. However, the Mohawks weren't out of gas quite yet.
With under seven minutes left to play, the Tartans opted to go for it on fourth-and-fifteen. Crager dropped back to pass but was sacked by Northwest's Kenny Crabtree who came untouched on a blitz.
Brown scored his fourth and final touchdown on the next drive, giving the Mohawks an eight point cushion and putting the finishing touches on an impressive night.
Northwest head coach Brooks Fry said that Brown's dominating performance was no surprise to him.
"It's no secret, he's one of the better backs in the area," Fry said. "He made a couple of big plays early, returned a kickoff for a touchdown, had a nice punt return, and there at the end of the game... we felt pretty good leaving the ball in his hands."
Before the season began, Fry had said he always considered Northwest to be a 'sleeping giant,' but was reluctant to say that Friday's win signified the giant was waking up.
"I don't know if I would go that far. It's the first step, and we've got a long journey to go still," Fry said.
East head coach Todd Gilliland attributed the loss in part to poor tackling.
"Northwest came out the first half and really played some good football, and we didn't," East head coach Todd Gilliland said. "We played sloppy at times and the biggest thing was a lot of missed tackles early in the game."
Nonetheless, Gilliland was pleased with the way the Tartans fought back in the third quarter and turned a once-lopsided game into a nail-biter.
"I am really proud of the boys efforts,” Gilliand said. “We easily could have just laid down and packed it in at half time but our boys, they fought hard all the way to the end. They gave us a chance to win, but things just didn't work out."
Both East and Northwest are now 1-1 on the season. The Tartans will host Federal Hocking next week, while the Mohawks go on the road to face Huntington.
Northwest 7 6 8 7 — 28
East 0 0 20 0 — 20
NW — Brown 41 yard run (kick good) 8:32
NW — Brown 23 yard run (kick blocked) 11:51
E — Elrod 8 yard run (Elrod run) 9:27
NW — Brown 82 yard kick return (Knittel run) 9:13
E — Elrod 6 yard run (run failed) 4:47
E — Crager 66 yard run (run failed) 0:56
NW — Brown 33 yard run (kick good) 2:55
RUSHING: Northwest — Brown 17-169, Hamilton 2-19, Smith 1-13, Seaman 1-7, Spradlin 2-2, Shirley 2-(-3), Knittel 3-(-6). East — Bradford 19-80, Belveal 10-74, Elrod 14-71, Crager 7-55, Campa 4-10.
PASSING: Northwest — Knittel 0-4-1 -2 yards. Brown 0-1-0. East — 0-5-0 48 yards.
RECEIVING: Northwest — #17 1-(-2). East — Elrod 2-33, Campa 1-15.
Records — Northwest 1-1; East 1-1