LUCASVILLE — Simply put, this time, Northwest head football coach Bill Crabtree — and his Mohawks — left Lucasville and Valley High School on Friday night in a light years different frame of mind.
Of course, when you haven’t defeated an archrival in two full decades, you tend to feel overly ecstatic once you raise your victorious hand.
That’s because, after a streak of 17 consecutive losses to the Indians, Northwest won over Valley for the first time since the year 2000 —scoring all of its points in the final 31 minutes and five seconds, and capturing a program-proud 37-22 triumph over the Indians on the hosts’ Reservation.
That’s correct, Valley had won 17 in a row over its rivals just down Ohio Route 348 —including twice last season, and once in an impromptu home affair.
In that game, the Mohawks held the lead but lost 28-21 in the final nine seconds —and unfortunately emerged a M*A*S*H unit up-and-down the roster with injuries, including some season-ending.
Three years ago, in Roy Rogers Country at Northwest, the Mohawks held a 14-0 early advantage —only to witness the Indians erase that deficit and escape with a 21-14 overtime win.
This time, once Northwest erased a 7-0 deficit, it wasn’t relinquishing that advantage —as the Mohawks held a 23-7 lead two-and-a-half minutes into the fourth quarter, following a massive 16-play, 76-yard drive that devoured nine-and-a-half minutes of the second-half clock.
Northwest now raised its record to 3-2, while the Indians fell to 2-3, as these two did not play for five years —between 2014 and 2018.
But, the infamous streak is now over —much to the relief of the fourth-year head coach Crabtree, who himself spoke and appeared as if he had been in battle from Friday night.
“I felt like I had a heart attack, and my calf hurts as you can see here,” commented Crabtree, with a slight laugh.
But one could tell the victory meant so much to him and the Mohawks’ program, which the players celebrated with their student section storming onto the field — followed by a postgame serenade with their marching band and cheerleaders in front of their fans.
“Our kids, especially our seniors, just weren’t going to take no for an answer on this one. They just wanted this. That’s all you can say,” said Crabtree. “We reminded our seniors at halftime of unfortunately what it feels like, where we’ve had leads in the fourth quarter against these guys and blown those leads, and how we didn’t want to experience that again. These guys didn’t want to let off the gas. They just kept hammering and making plays and it was a great night. Defense, offense, special teams freshmen through seniors, everything worked for us tonight to get this monkey off our back.”
A proverbial monkey, or more like a gorilla —or an albatross.
One of those Northwest seniors, five-foot and 11-inch and 230-pound running back and linebacker Wyatt Brackman boasted a hefty 158 yards and four short touchdown runs on 34 carries — which were all of the Mohawks’ touchdowns in fact, following Connor’s Lintz’s nine-yard run which got Northwest on the board.
Brackman also made a 21-yard reception on a screen pass.
The run-oriented Mohawks, which owned the football for an incredulous — and almost unheard of — 38 minutes and 35 seconds compared to just nine minutes and 25 tics for the Indians —made it pay in the form of dominating the line of scrimmage.
Brackman — playing with a torn hamstring per Crabtree— broke tackles, bulldozed his way through the first level and into the second of Valley defenders, and kept the chains moving and the game clock ticking.
Often times, it took four, five, or sometimes six or seven Indian tacklers to finally drag him down.
He had three one-yard paydirt dives, before finally turning the third of three Valley fourth-quarter turnovers into a game-clinching — and ultimately skid-busting — three-yard TD run that made it 37-15 with 2:12 remaining.
He picked up his final and 158th yard on his 34th and final carry —right at midfield with under two minutes to play.
From there, Brackman —behind fellow senior and offensive lineman leader Alex Baer —broke out into celebration with their Mohawk teammates.
“You can’t say enough about Wyatt Brackman. He was focused on this game for an entire year. Last year and the game three years ago just broke his heart. He promised, if we were at the goal line, he would get the ball in (in the end zone). He would fight and get it. And tonight he did. He was our workhorse,” said Crabtree. “We looked at Alex Baer before the game, right in the eye, and told him we were coming behind him. We controlled the line of scrimmage all night long. It wasn’t pretty all the time, we weren’t real flashy, and we gave up a couple of big plays late to make the score closer than we felt it should have been. But our kids lined up, got up into them and just fought.”
Lintz added 86 yards on 14 carries, kicked all five of Northwest’s extra-point kicks, and made the other Mohawk reception for six yards in the first half.
In playing perfectly a game of keep-away, the Mohawks cranked out 71 plays from scrimmage compared to the Indians’ 33.
All but five plays were rushing attempts (66), as Northwest generated 292 rushing yards —and ended up with a 23-8 first-downs advantage, while not turning the football over once.
The Mohawks first had a 14-play first-quarter drive which consumed all but four minutes of the period, followed by second-quarter scoring drives of 10 plays and 53 yards and five minutes and seven seconds and nine plays and 43 yards and four minutes and 55 seconds.
All three first-half possessions produced four first downs apiece, as Northwest went ahead 14-7 with 58 seconds to play before halftime —and never trailed again.
And, when the Mohawks drove yet didn’t score, they for sure flipped field position on Valley.
That aforementioned first-quarter possession stalled out on a 4th-and-1 at the Indians’ 3-yard-line, but Valley was forced to punt from the back of the end zone after a three-and-out.
Similarly, to open the second half, Northwest moved eight plays to the Valley 37 in four minutes and 10 seconds —but punted to the Indians’ 7-yard-line.
Valley went three-and-out again, but this time, Baer blocked the punt attempt out of the end zone for a stunning safety — and a 16-7 lead with seven minutes and seven seconds left in the third.
That forced an ensuing Indian free kick to the Mohawks, which then crafted the aforementioned and astounding 16-play, six-first down and nine-and-a-half minute scoring march —which Brackman finished off by going off tackle for the final yard.
“We knew Valley was athletic, so our goal was to keep the ball out of their hands. Their matchups might cause problems if they had the ball. We had to keep the chains moving, keep the ball and not turn the ball over,” said Crabtree. “We stepped up and met our goals, and that’s with guys stepping up and stepping out of their comfort zones by playing in positions they’ve never played before.”
Unfortunately for the Indians, after their initial drive of five plays and 70 yards and only a minute and 38 seconds in time of possession, they just didn’t have the football.
In part, and part of its own demise defensively and offensively, Valley assisted the Mohawks via way of five-yard penalties.
A running into the kicker call kept the first Northwest possession going after only three plays, as the Indians jumped offsides four times on three Mohawk scoring drives —three times in fact on 4th-down and short.
Between Valley’s first two touchdowns, the Indians punted three times following three-and-outs —sandwiched around a six-play series right before the half, in which Valley moved from midfield to the Northwest 27.
The Indians ended up with 10 penalties for 42 yards —ranging from encroachment to false start to illegal substitution to delay of game.
“The time of possession, they were able to run the ball and hold the ball and do those things, but our penalties killed us. We gave them first downs. We had opportunities to get off the field and we didn’t do it,” said Valley coach Nolan Crabtree. “Our defense I didn’t think played bad, but they were on the field a ton. We kept battling, but the penalties played a huge role in keeping their drives alive. To their credit, they moved the ball and controlled the clock and grinded it out, and we just really struggled to get off the field.”
George Arnett had an 11-yard touchdown run to end the opening series—as his five quarterback carries for 30 yards paced the Purple and Gold on the ground.
Arnett also completed 12-of-23 passes for 190 yards, as he needed just 31 seconds and three plays —two completions to Carter Nickel and a 45-yard touchdown pass to Colton Buckle via the screen pass —to get the Indians within 23-15 with his two-point conversion run.
But the Indians’ turnovers, and the Mohawks scoring off them, headlined the final nine minutes.
The Mohawks quick-punted following a three-and-out series, as Tanner Bolin booted the ball for 50 yards down to the Valley 12.
Facing 4th-down-and-2 at their own 20, the Indians opted to go for it —but a low snap to Arnett and a fumbled ball in the backfield set off a disastrous chain of Valley events, as Northwest’s Ryan Bennett intercepted an Arnett throw-away pass.
Bennett made the pick at the 10, returned it to the goal line, and Brackman made it across for his hat trick of one-yard dives with only 6:12 to go.
“We had a miscommunication on that snap. George wasn’t ready for the snap. Can’t have that in that spot,” said Nolan Crabtree. “We kept battling to the end, but you’re not going to win games given that many penalties, that many mistakes compounding later when we’re backed up and getting out of our gameplan, and when they are able to control the ball like that.”
The Indians attempted to score quickly again trailing 30-15, but a fumble following a pass reception gave the Mohawks the ball back at the Northwest 42.
Then, nearing three minutes left, Shane Miller stepped in front of an Arnett pass at the Valley 28 on 3rd-and-17 —as he returned it to the 10, setting up Brackman’s back-breaking touchdown to make it 37-15.
“The best part of tonight besides Wyatt (Brackman) was we had guys step up that nobody really expected to step up. And once again, these are seniors,” said Bill Crabtree. “Ryan Bennett had two huge turnovers, Shane Miller making that interception and fighting for every yard he got on that return. Alex Baer blocks the punt for the safety. Guys stepping up and making plays all night long.”
It ended up a long night for the Indians, which did get a 63-yard scoring strike from Arnett to Jaekyn Ridout to make the final 37-22 —as Buckle booted both of his extra-point attempts.
“It wasn’t meant to be,” said Nolan Crabtree. “Just have to keep working and keep teaching and keep practicing hard and learning from our mistakes and stay together on this.”
That’s what the Mohawks did on Friday night —sticking it out and ultimately snapping an infamous losing streak.
“We’ve waited for this one for a long time,” said Bill Crabtree.
* * *
Northwest 0 14 2 21 — 37
Valley 7 0 0 15 — 22
V — George Arnett, 11-yard run (Colton Buckle kick), 10:22, 1st (7-0 V)
N— Connor Lintz, 9-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 7:05, 2nd (7-7 tie)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 1-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), :58, 2nd (14-7 N)
N —Safety, blocked punt out of end zone, 7:07, 3rd (16-7 N)
N —Wyatt Brackman, 1-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 9:31, 4th (23-7 N)
V —Colt Buckle, 45-yard pass from George Arnett (George Arnett run), 9:00, 4th (23-15 N)
N —Wyatt Brackman, 1-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 6:12, 4th (30-15 N)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 3-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 2:12, 4th (37-15 N)
V —Jaekyn Ridout, 57-yard pass from George Arnett (Colton Buckle kick), 1:55, 4th (37-22 N)
First downs 23 8
Scrimmage plays 71 33
Rushes-yards 66-292 10-36
Passing yards 27 190
Total yards 319 226
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-52 10-42
Punts-Ave. 3-38.3 3-23.7
Time of possession 38:35 9:25
— — —
RUSHING — Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 34-158 4TD, Connor Lintz 14-86 TD, Tanner Bolin 7-18, Colton Campbell 5-7, Kory Butler 3-7, Brady Doss 2-14, Lane Gilley 1-2 ; Valley: George Arnett 5-30 TD, Colton Buckle 4-6, Gabe McNeil 1-0
PASSING —Northwest: Tanner Bolin 2-5-0-27; Valley: George Arnett 12-23-2-190 2TD
RECEIVING —Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 1-21, Connor Lintz 1-6; Valley: Colton Buckle 6-67 TD, Jaekyn Ridout 2-63 TD, Hunter Edwards 2-45, Carter Nickel 2-15