WHEELERSBURG —How fitting, at the home of the Pirates, the Northwest Mohawks have completely righted their season ship.
Or, at the minimum at least, are back to .500 on a season which went sideways for four weeks — with their non-conference campaign.
That’s because Northwest, the defending Southern Ohio Conference Division I champion, moved to a perfect 3-0 in the SOC I and 4-4 overall —following scoring 34 unanswered points en route to a 41-20 triumph over the Green Bobcats (1-4) on Saturday night inside Ed Miller Stadium in Wheelersburg.
That’s correct, as the Mohawks — amid an injury-riddled season so far — have re-found their winning ways inside SOC play, and appear on a possible collision course with Symmes Valley in the regular-season finale for the outright SOC I championship.
That will be in two weeks time, as caging the young Bobcats and leaving Wheelersburg relatively healthy on Saturday night were Northwest’s top two priorities.
They did for the game’s final three quarters, and the final three minutes and eight seconds of the opening salvo, as Northwest scored 34 of the game’s final 48 points —and scored all half-dozen of its touchdowns from outside the red zone.
In fact, five scoring plays were of 37 or more yards —and four for 52 or more.
Northwest’s patented running attack, operating out of its traditional and unorthodox double-wing and double tight-end formations, amassed 392 yards on 30 carries —with Wyatt Brackman and Jesse Copas carrying eight times apiece.
But, their yardage and touchdown distances is what opened eyes — and raised eyebrows.
Brackman, bolstered by back-to-back paydirt dashes of 76 and 37 yards a mere three minutes and 50 seconds apart in the second stanza, boasted 186 yards.
The freshman Copas — with TD gallops of 63, 20 and 75 yards —amassed 184.
Copas also caught the final of Austin Newman’s three pass attempts —and turned a slip screen into a 52-yard pitch-and-catch, which made it 34-6 in favor of the Mohawks a mere 51 seconds into the second half.
Although Northwest never put the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running clock on the young and rebuilding Bobcats, the Mohawks’ physicality quickly imposed their will.
Northwest’s size and strength advantage also aided, as both Brackman and Copas shed Green tacklers on those explosive plays.
Outside of Copas’ 63-yard run which got the Mohawks on the scoreboard and capped a five-play, 79-yard and two-minute and 50-second scoring drive, the final five Northwest scoring series’ lasted only two plays —AND less than a minute-and-a-half.
Northwest tied the game at 6-6 with only 13 seconds left in the opening quarter, as Copas’ initial scamper jump-started the Mohawks’ momentum.
“Once we settled in and started doing what we do with our double-wing stuff, it worked out well. Those guys (Brackman and Copas) were fighting for extra yards and things were springing for us. We pride ourselves on our physicality,” said Northwest coach Bill Crabtree. “Once we calmed down and got after it, we played a pretty good game.”
For the Bobcats, just being able to play a game was a welcome relief.
It was actually Green’s first game in three full weeks —with its SOC I matchups at Symmes Valley and against Notre Dame being canceled because of the program’s coronavirus situation.
In week four, Manchester canceled on the Bobcats because of its coronavirus issues, leaving the Bobcats with only one game since Sept 4. — before Saturday night against Northwest.
That was the Bobcats’ only victory — a 36-21 win over Ashland Fairview from Kentucky.
Green coach Chad Coffman provided an update on the program —and the Bobcats’ inability to practice much, let alone play.
“From a varsity football perspective, you don’t want to miss weeks or miss games. We’re still really young, and the last two weeks have really been a big challenge. When you only have six guys at practice or don’t have practice…but starting this week we had to move forward regardless,” said Coffman. “The guys that we had this week, we got a good crew back on Monday, which gave us a week of practice. I thought considering all that, we came out and played with a lot of intensity early.”
The Bobcats’ opening series actually moved the ball into Northwest territory, but the drive stalled out when they were whistled for three consecutive false-start penalties and were forced to punt.
However, they found the end zone first —thanks in part to a short field from the Mohawks, which was the result of a fumbled punt snap and subsequent botched punt attempt.
Abe McBee — the Bobcats’ quarterback for the first three quarters — capped a five-play, three-minute and 19-second drive by plunging in from four yards out.
“That real slow start had me nervous there at first,” said Crabtree.
But no worries for the Mohawks, which forced in the first half from there a Green three-and-out, an interception, and a lost fumble.
Northwest extended its lead to 28-6 at halftime, and completely took away what the Bobcats wanted to do with their jet-sweep play.
“Aaron Penn and Alex Baer and Wyatt Brackman, both sides of that defense, played lights out and did a great job of shutting that down all night long,” said Crabtree.
The wing-T Bobcats did rush for 201 yards on 47 attempts, but most of those were from the quarterbacks McBee and Derek Salyers —who was the signal-caller for the entire fourth frame.
McBee, before exiting with cramps according to Coffman, rushed 19 times for 130 yards —and scored a second touchdown by running in from 11 yards out with seven minutes left in the third.
Salyers scored from seven yards, and ran in the two-point conversion, to make it 41-20 with only 2:20 to go.
Nathaniel Brannigan caught all three of the Bobcats’ completions for 37 yards, but passing the football is not one of Green’s strengths.
Especially against Northwest, which is the largest school for football in the SOC I.
“They are the league champs, they are good, and they are good at running the football. They are a big Division V school and are physical, and we are a little Division VII school,” said Coffman. “I think that every touchdown they scored in the first half, we hit the kid in the backfield, but we have to put the ballcarrier on the ground. When we did that we were good, but we didn’t do that consistent enough obviously.”
The Bobcats return to action on Friday night at East —which is a winnable game along with their season finale against Eastern.
“We just have to keep working to get better,” said Coffman. “Those are two league games that we think we have a good feel for. It’s going to be about preparation and who is going to work and get it done.”
Speaking of getting it done, the Mohawks are doing just that —in the comfort zone of the SOC I.
Northwest will travel to Eastern on Friday night.
“The kids are settling down, we’re making plays now, and things are coming slower to us,” said Crabtree. “Jesse Copas and Wyatt Brackman both run the ball hard and are not easy to bring down. And Austin Newman makes the most out of playing the quarterback position. He completed all three of his passes tonight. I believe we got out of this healthy too.”
* * *
Northwest 6 22 13 0 —41
Green 6 0 6 8 —20
G — Abe McBee, 4-yard run (run failed), 3:08, 1st (6-0 G)
N — Jesse Copas, 63-yard run (run failed), :13, 1st (6-6 tie)
N — Jesse Copas, 20-yard run (Wyatt Brackman run), 9:04, 2nd (14-6 N)
N— Wyatt Brackman, 76-yard run (Wyatt Brackman pass from Austin Newman), 4:32, 2nd (22-6 N)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 37-yard run (pass failed), :42, 2nd (28-6 N)
N — Jesse Copas, 52-yard pass from Austin Newman (run failed), 11:09, 3rd (34-6 N)
G — Abe McBee, 11-yard run (run failed), 7:01, 3rd (34-12 N)
N — Jesse Copas, 75-yard run (Jay Jenkins kick), 2:27, 3rd (41-12 N)
G —Derek Salyers, 7-yard run (Derek Salyers run), 2:20, 4th (41-20 N)
First downs 12 15
Scrimmage plays 34 52
Rushes-yards 30-392 47-201
Passing yards 73 37
Total yards 465 238
Cmp-Att-Int. 3-4-0 3-5-1
Fumbles-lost 4-1 4-2
Penalties-yards 15-100 7-47
Punts-Ave 2-16 3-41.3
RUSHING —Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 8-186 2TD, Jesse Copas 8-184 3TD, Logan Shepherd 4-30, Andrew Newman 3-2, Lane Gilley 2-2, Brycen Taylor 1-6, Hunter Armbrister 1-0, Alex Baer 1-(-1), Austin Newman 1-(-11), Team 1-(-6); Green: Abe McBee 19-130 2TD, Derek Salyers 7-44 TD, Nathaniel Brannigan 7-13, Andy Runyon 5-16, Blake Smith 4-4, Brett Chaney 2-10, Landan Lodwick 2-(-8), Team 1-(-8)
PASSING — Northwest: Austin Newman 3-3-0-73 TD, Andrew Newman 0-1-0-0; Green: Abe McBee 2-4-1-30, Derek Salyers 1-1-0-7
RECEIVING—Northwest: Jesse Copas 1-52 TD, Darius Williams 1-21, Carter Runyon 1-0; Green: Nathaniel Brannigan 3-37
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved