OBETZ — The Northwest Mohawks’ mantra for the season has been “next man up”.
Unfortunately for the Mohawks, against Columbus Bishop Ready on Saturday night, they ran rather low —and ultimately out —of those next men.
Hence, and despite a deep roster of over 60 players, the visiting and 11th-seeded Mohawks — already playing seemingly short-handed —met their match and were overwhelmed by sixth-seeded Ready 52-3 in an OHSAA Division V Region 19 second-round playoff bout inside futuristic Fortress Obetz.
While Northwest was playing in only its second-ever playoff game, following last week’s historic and dramatic 21-20 home win over Portsmouth, the Mohawks — all week — had an uphill climb in being able to compete against the traditional state powerhouse Silver Knights.
The Mohawks had a bevy of injuries as the season progressed, but by far none were bigger than running back Brayden Campbell breaking his ribs against Portsmouth — and not being able to play against Ready as a result.
Campbell is easily Northwest’s primary offensive threat, having rushed for more than 200 yards and 20 carries in multiple games.
Against Ready, the Mohawks punted six times —all following three-and-out possessions —including five in the first half.
In fact, Northwest never even crossed midfield until the game’s final series —when it scored its only points as time expired.
The Mohawks drove nine plays, picked up three of their four first downs, did not have a negative-yardage snap on the drive, and made their biggest gain on a 49-yard pass from Austin Newman to Evan Lintz.
It may have been against the Ready reserves, but it was nice for the Mohawks to score three points — as Dakota Secrest kicked a 21-yard field goal for the 52-3 final.
Newman completed four of 10 passes for 68 yards, as Tanner Bolin made two of those receptions for 17 .
Wyatt Brackman, with Campbell out, carried the most with 10 rushes for 45 yards — as Newman added eight carries for 18 yards.
The loss snapped Northwest’s winning streak of six —which began following its season-opening loss at Valley.
As part of that streak, Northwest won arguably its three biggest games in school history back-to-back-to-back —defeating Eastern and Symmes Valley to clinch its first outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship prior to last week’s first-ever playoff game and win.
However, the Mohawks had health situations or outright injuries occur in the process — as Connor Lintz missed the Symmes Valley and Portsmouth games with an emergency appendectomy, prior to Campbell’s absence on Saturday night.
In addition, starting center Owen Blaine injured his knee against Portsmouth —and was out against the Silver Knights.
Northwest coach Bill Crabtree spoke of the Mohawks’ M-A-S-H unit, and makeshift changes on both sides of the ball.
“Obviously losing Campbell was huge, but just across the board, we were banged up and beat up heading up here,” he said. “We knew going into it we had a huge mountain to climb.”
While both clubs are now 6-2, the Silver Knights are well-known not just in the Columbus-metro area, but throughout the entire state.
Crabtree was most impressed with Ready’s speed.
“They were fast. A lot faster than I realized. It just shows the level of talent in this area,” said the coach. “They were a lot faster than we thought they were. They were able to get the edge on us and it was like hornets coming at us every time we had the ball. They played hard and fast, so hats off to them. They played a great game.”
In fact, Ready only had five plays of negative yardage, and the first one wasn’t until the third-to-last play of the first period.
As Northwest went three-and-out on its opening two possessions, the Silver Knights needed just four plays to twice score and take a 14-0 lead with four minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The first drive spanned 65 yards and two minutes and the second 45 yards and a minute and 40 seconds —as running back Brian Fitzsimmons scored from 23 and 15 yards with Evan O’Connell converting the first two of his seven extra points.
The Silver Knights needed five plays on their next series, scoring on the opening snap of the second stanza as O’Connell kicked a 27-yard field goal.
Another Northwest three-and-out to start the second quarter resulted in another Ready touchdown — this one a one-yard Fitzsimmons score midway through the quarter to cap off an eight-play, 46-yard drive.
The Mohawks finally picked up their only first-half first down two plays later, as Brackman powered up the middle for 20 yards to the Northwest 40-yard-line.
But needing to reach midfield to keep the drive alive, another Brackman carry produced five yards to the Mohawk 49 — thus resulting in a turnover on downs.
On the first play following, the Silver Knights slayed their way and went for the jugular — as quarterback Darius Parham hit Andy Schulze with a touchdown bomb at the 3:37 mark.
Finally, after another Northwest three-and-out, Parham called his own number from three yards away with 13 seconds remaining — capping a quick minute-and-a-half six-play 33-yard march to make it 38-0 with O’Connell’s fifth extra point.
The entire second half was played with the OHSAA’s running-clock rule, as the Mohawks’ first possession was their final three-and-out —sandwiched around Ready drives of a half-dozen and a dozen plays and two more Fitzsimmons touchdowns of two and 11 yards.
Fitzsimmons’ five rushing TDs came on only 13 carries, as he finished with 107 yards.
Parham (51 yards) and Tyrese Hudson (53 yards) had eight carries apiece, as Parham completed 8-of-10 passes for 134 yards —with Schulze catching five for 102 bolstered by his 49-yard touchdown catch.
Ready racked up 240 (366-126) more yards than the Mohawks, and totaled 21 first downs.
But despite the chilly Saturday night inside Fortress Obetz, and facing the 52-0 deficit, the Mohawks made sure they scored points — much to the delight of their fans which stayed the entire game.
The 49-yard short pass to Lintz moved the Mohawks to the Ready 29, as Newman completed an 11-yard pass to Bolin to the 18 on the next play for back-to-back first downs.
A pair of Newman carries for four and three yards, sandwiched around Brackman’s nine-yard gain for its fourth and final first down, set up Northwest with 2nd-and-goal at the 2-yard-line.
Secrest kicked the 21-yard field goal at the gun, of which Crabtree considered “a moral victory”.
“Our kids found a way to get points at the end. They kept fighting to the end. It was nice to see them end on that note,” he said.
It was the final playoff game for six seniors, but Northwest will play at Piketon on Friday night for another regular-season tilt.
So thus, the Mohawks have a good opportunity at one more win — and end a historic season the right way.
“It was a good experience for our kids to come out and play in this stadium and on the big stage like this. We knew we were up against a real good team and it wasn’t our night as far as that goes. All across the board, they (Ready) didn’t have a weakness. They had strength and speed and they definitely came at us all night long. It didn’t end how we had hoped for, but it was a fun experience,” said Crabtree. “Our kids have stepped up each week and put us in position to be here. That’s what it’s all about. Just coming together and building a community. Our crowd was still cheering and our kids were still fighting all the way to the end. That’s all you can ask for.”
* * *
Ready 52, Northwest 3
Northwest 0 0 0 3 —3
Ready 14 24 7 7 —52
N— Brian Fitzsimmons, 38-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), 8:17, 1st (7-0 R)
R— Brian Fitzsimmons, 15-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), 4:49, 1st (14-0 R)
R— Evan O’Connell, 27-yard field goal, 11:48, 2nd (17-0 R)
R— Brian Fitzsimmons, 1-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), 6:14, 2nd (24-0 R)
R— Andy Schulze, 49-yard pass from Darius Parham (Evan O’Connell kick), 3:37, 2nd (31-0 R)
R— Darius Parham, 3-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), :13, 2nd (38-0 R)
R— Brian Fitzsimmons, 2-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), 6:34, 3rd (45-0 R)
R — Brian Fitzsimmons, 11-yard run (Evan O’Connell kick), 6:38, 4th (52-0 R)
N—Dakota Secrest, 21-yard field goal, :00, 4th (52-3 R)
First downs 4 21
Plays from scrimmage 34 46
Rushes-yards 24-58 36-232
Passing yards 68 134
Total yards 126 366
Cmp-Att-Int. 4-10-0 8-10-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-Yards 8-59 3-14
Punts-Ave. 6-32 0-0
RUSHING —Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 10-45, Austin Newman 8-18, Dakota Secrest 3-(-7), Zane Gilley 2-2, Evan Lintz 1-0; Ready: Brian Fitzsimmons 13-107 5TD, Tyrese Hudson 8-53, Darius Parham 8-51 TD, JeJaun McGowan 6-18, Andy Schulze 1-3
PASSING — Northwest: Austin Newman 4-10-0 68; Ready: Darius Parham 8-10-0-134 TD
RECEIVING —Northwest: Tanner Bolin 2-17, Evan Lintz 1-49, Zane Gilley 1-2; Ready: Andy Schulze 5-102 TD, P.J. Daniels 2-22, Tyrese Hudson 1-10
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