McDERMOTT — It was absolutely the best birthday gift for Dakota Secrest.
And, it was definitely an amazing offensive performance by Brayden Campbell.
But most importantly, it was an incredible and memorable night to be a Mohawk.
That’s because host Northwest, in finally putting together the complete game it both wanted and needed, notched officially at least a share of its second Southern Ohio Conference Division I football championship in program history — thanks to a convincing, and even somewhat surprising, 42-20 dominating victory over the Eastern Eagles on Friday night inside sparkling Roy Rogers Field.
The Mohawks — on Homecoming — manhandled the previously-undefeated Eagles, as both teams are now 4-1.
But as both squads entered Friday night at 3-0 in the SOC I, Eastern appeared quite confident — as several observers actually viewed the Eagles as the favorite for the outcome.
They, in fact, aimed to clinch their first football conference championship — in their sixth season as a varsity program.
By the end of the opening quarter, though, the Mohawks had a handle on things with a stunning 21-0 advantage —and definitely had Eastern in shell-shock mode with a 42-12 third-quarter cushion, combined with the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule.
Although that running clock consisted of the final three minutes and 24 seconds of the third period and the opening minute and 15 tics of the fourth, few folks in either Eagle country or Northwest territory probably predicted a 22-point decision.
For the Mohawks, which shared the SOC I championship with Oak Hill and Symmes Valley in their first season (21014) in the division, they will finish no worse than co-champions this year.
Northwest will win its first-ever outright conference crown if it defeats host Symmes Valley in a revenge matchup next week.
However, the Mohawks had to first craft the contest they had been waiting exactly 11 months for.
“It’s exciting. This is the first game we put together. I knew we had the potential to do this. We know the potential of this team, and we have a lot of guys that really want to win here. Tonight is the first night they’ve actually put together a full four quarters,” said second-year Northwest coach Bill Crabtree. “This is exactly what we needed. These guys were 4-0 coming in here and to knock them off the way we did was great. We’ve worked for a night like this for a year. It was a great night and a great team win.”
That it was for Northwest.
“It is what it is. It was a championship game and they earned it. They went and got it,” said Eastern coach Scott Tomlison. “We have not put the ball on the ground like that or made mistakes like that all year. Thought we had this one and should have had this one. They (Mohawks) are a good team, but I still think we beat ourselves. We did not play the caliber of a championship team tonight and they did. So they get it (championship).”
Defensively, the Mohawks forced four Eagle turnovers including three lost fumbles, while offensively — with their unique run-oriented attack — taking advantage with 57 rushing plays for 370 yards.
They stymied the high-flying spread-oriented Eagles to only 181 total yards on 42 plays, as the junior standout rusher Campbell erupted —and outgained AND outscored Eastern by himself.
Campbell amassed four rushing touchdowns on 26 carries for a whopping 254 yards, as his three longest gainers — of 32, 45 and 70 yards —all resulted in scores.
He also caught both of Austin Newman’s pass attempts for a total of 35 yards —both coming in the second scoring drive and of distances of 11 and 24 yards.
Secrest kicked a perfect 6-of-6 on extra points, including his last which extended his made PAT streak to 18.
But the birthday boy’s best —and most memorable —play was his interception of a Wyatt Hines pass at the 3-yard line, and returning it all the way the other way for a picture-perfect pick-six.
That occurred with only six seconds remaining before halftime — and wiped out an Eastern march of 10 plays, 65 yards and four minutes with the Eagles trailing 28-12.
At that point, the Eagles started soaring with momentum after their pair of first-half scores —which came just two minutes and 50 seconds apart in the second quarter and were a dozen direct points off Northwest turnovers.
But Secrest’s return from one end of the field to another marked a major 14-point swing —as Eastern attempted to reduce its deficit at that point to eight (28-20).
It didn’t help the Eagles that they didn’t have any timeouts to call a different play.
“That was a back-breaker,” said Tomlison. “We didn’t have a timeout left, and we just kinda called a play and chucked one up to the back of the end zone. They pick it off and take it the full length of the field for a touchdown.”
The pass was a jump ball from the goal line that Secrest secured at its apex, as he came down —and raced down the near sideline for six points the other way.
“That was huge. It’s Dakota’s birthday and he picks that ball off and runs it back for a touchdown,” said Crabtree. “He is a great kid and we’re glad he is here with us. He made a big play when we needed him to. But that’s the type of kids we have right now. Kids that are willing to step up and make plays.”
With Secrest’s fifth extra point, all of the sudden it was 35-12.
“When they (Eagles) started battling back, an old-school Northwest team might have faltered and panicked. These guys, they stayed calm, they were having fun out there and they were getting to the ball,” said Crabtree. “We did a really good job of shutting down some really good athletes tonight.”
And also taking advantage by playing power running football, moving the chains, and most importantly devouring the clock.
The Mohawks held the ball for the opening eight-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, driving 60 yards in 15 plays and picking up six first downs— and not attempting a single solitary pass.
Northwest also converted a pair of 4th-down-and-1s on the move, including the touchdown which was a 1-yard dive from fullback Wyatt Brackman.
Brackman bolstered 84 yards on 13 totes, as the Mohawks doubled up the Eagles in first downs (22-11) and punted just once.
“I was really surprised with how well we ran the ball and played up front against Eastern’s good defensive line. They have some big guys up there. I know we have dogs that are willing to fight, but tonight they proved it,” said Crabtree.
With Secrest’s sixth PAT kick, the running-clock rule kicked in — as the Eagles actually scored the final eight points with only 10:45 remaining.
But sometimes, it’s not about how you finish, but rather how you start.
The Mohawks — or rather Campbell with 24 and Secrest for four — hit for 28 points in the opening 15 minutes and 45 seconds, screaming out to a 21-0 lead in the first nine-and-a-half.
The Eagles opened the game with a three-and-out series, as Northwest went eight plays and 70 yards in only three-and-a-half minutes — with Campbell dashing the final 32.
Campbell carried an inside toss to the smack dab middle of the line, then suddenly burst free from the bodies — and sprinted all alone to the end zone.
On the next play from scrimmage, a bad shotgun snap got well behind Hines — resulting in a 16-yard loss but more importantly a Kaden Zumbro recovery of the lost Eastern fumble.
With Northwest in business at the Eagle 33, Newman completed his two passes to Campbell — as Campbell carried twice for two yards and Brackman once for three.
Campbell completed the short-field trek with a 5-yard scoring run, making it 14-0 at the three-and-a-half minute mark with Secrest’s second extra point.
The Eagles then had four more plays sandwiched around back-to-back five-yard penalties, but they turned it over on downs at their own 45.
On the next play, Campbell struck again, taking a toss sweep to the left and going untouched to make it 21-0 only a mere minute after his last trip to paydirt.
He then made it 28-12 with Secrest’s fourth extra point, answering Eastern’s two quick and potentially momentum-changing touchdowns with his 70-yard jaunt at the 4:15 mark of the second.
“It was just a blitz against us there at the beginning and our kids could not recover,” said Tomlison. “We had a bad snap, a bad pitch, and we have a blown defensive assignment and Campbell takes it to the house. It was that kind of night.”
Hines completed 9-of-17 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns — the first a 27-yarder to Logan Clemmons and on the first play following a Northwest fumble.
Dillion Mattox, who paced the Eagles with 13 carries for 60 yards, made it 21-12 when he returned the other Mohawk lost fumble 94 yards for a sudden score at the 4:51 mark.
But that Eagle momentum only lasted 36 seconds, as Campbell with his 70-yard dart and Secrest with his birthday gift to himself were just two key plays of an incredible night for the Mohawks.
“We were hungry, and tonight we finally pulled together, put it all together and did what we needed to do,” said Crabtree. “Great to see the kids having fun again. This is the most fun we’ve had all year. And it was against a great team so it’s even better.”
* * *
Northwest 42, Eastern 20
Eastern 0 12 0 8 —20
Northwest 21 14 7 0 — 42
N— Brayden Campbell, 32-yard run (Dakota Secrest kick), 7:14, 1st (7-0 N)
N— Brayden Campbell, 5-yard run (Dakota Secrest kick), 3:33, 1st (14-0 N)
N— Brayden Campbell, 45-yard run (Dakota Secrest kick), 2:32, 1st (21-0 N)
E— Logan Clemmons, 27-yard pass from Wyatt Hines (kick failed), 7:41, 2nd (21-6 N)
E— Dillion Mattox, 94-yard fumble recovery return (run failed), 4:51, 2nd (21-12 N)
N— Brayden Campbell, 70-yard run (Dakota Secrest kick), 4:15, 2nd (28-12 N)
N— Dakota Secrest, 97-yard interception (Dakota Secrest kick), :06, 2nd (35-12 N)
N— Wyatt Brackman, 1-yard run (Dakota Secrest kick), 3:24, 3rd (42-12 N)
E— Bryce Myer, 7-yard pass from Wyatt Hines (Dillion Mattox run), 10:45, 4th (42-20 N)
First downs 11 22
Plays from scrimmage 42 59
Rushes-yards 25-89 57-370
Passing yards 92 35
Total yards 181 405
Cmp-Att-Int. 9-17-1 2-2-0
Fumbles-lost 5-3 2-2
Penalties-Yards 4-23 9-99
Punts-Ave. 2-35 1-43
RUSHING —Eastern: Dillion Mattox 13-60, Logan Clemmons 3-25, Wyatt Hines 7-9, Devon Conley 1-11, Team 1-(-16); Northwest: Brayden Campbell 26-254 4TD, Wyatt Brackman 13-84 TD, Connor Lintz 6-25, Evan Lintz 4-13, Dakota Secrest 3-3, Austin Newman 1-(-3), Team 4-(-6)
PASSING — Eastern: Wyatt Hines 9-17-1-92 2TD; Northwest: Austin Newman 2-2-0-35
RECEIVING — Eastern: Colten Denny 2-27, Bryce Myer 2-13 TD, Dillion Mattox 2-11, Logan Clemmons 1-27 TD, Devon Conley 1-12, Jake Tribby 1-2; Northwest: Brayden Campbell 2-35
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved