McDERMOTT — Another night of football for the Northwest Mohawks, another night of playing running games of keep-away, and another night in the Mohawks’ —so far —September to remember.
For the second consecutive game, only this time instead of an archrival, the Mohawks met a Southern Ohio Conference Division I squad —as Northwest was all about Wyatt Brackman running the ball, and its run-oriented offense playing ball control and consuming the clock.
This time, in Friday night’s SOC I opener against the Notre Dame Titans, the senior fullback Brackman carried 27 times for 172 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns —spearheading the Mohawks’ 48-18 runaway win on Homecoming Night at Northwest High School’s Roy Rogers Field.
The Mohawks, having won three straight affairs including their dramatic 37-22 victory at archrival Valley which snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Indians, raised their record to 4-2 —while Notre Dame dropped to 2-4.
The Titans, aside from Fisher Catholic in an early September shutout, have played five of their opening six games on the road —but only Northwest of course was within an hour-and-a-half bus ride.
The Mohawks never trailed, the Titans never made any of their three extra-point attempts, and Shane Miller returned a kickoff 81 yards for a Northwest touchdown — to snatch back any momentum which Notre Dame may have gained.
With the exception of an 18-yard touchdown toss on a slant route — from quarterback Tanner Bolin to Connor Lintz following a two-play, 22-yard and 46-second drive which followed the Mohawks tackling the Titans’ Dylan Seison for an 11-yard loss on a high punt snap — all of the Mohawks’ marches which produced points spanned at least eight plays, 56 yards, and three-and-a-half minutes in time of possession.
In other words, Northwest did what it wanted to — once again.
In addition to Brackman’s bulky numbers, Kory Butler bookended the scoring with a pair of short touchdown runs —as he chipped in 72 yards on 14 carries.
He also caught a Bolin pass for 26 yards — as Lintz successfully kicked six of seven extra-point attempts, made five receptions for 65 yards, and rushed three times for 35 yards.
Even Bolin got in on the action with 7-of-8 pass completions and 107 yards —as his other pass completion went to Miller for 16.
“Wyatt (Brackman) is always going to do what Wyatt does, Connor (Lintz) is always going to do his thing, but Kory Butler is finally healthy and played the way we’ve always known he can play. He is finally getting the confidence and probably had his best performance tonight running downhill. He ran great for us all night long and blocking for Wyatt as well. Shane Miller made big plays again for us, not only the kick return but Notre Dame has good receivers, and he was in position all night long to make plays. Tanner (Bolin) had a great night throwing the ball and moving the chains. And our line did their job led by Alex Baer and Hunter Campbell, they got after it and we wore them down. I wouldn’t want to tackle Wyatt Brackman 30 times or more a night. Nobody in their right mind would. He is just a load to bring down. He is getting back to where he is not only moving the pile, but breaking off big runs,” said Northwest coach Bill Crabtree. “Just a great team performance. Really exciting to jump out like this.”
Crabtree continued, citing Notre Dame as a possible preseason favorite for the SOC I championship — despite Division V Northwest being at least two divisions larger than four (Notre Dame, East, Green, Symmes Valley) of the league schools —and that defending champion Symmes Valley was gutted by graduation losses.
This is, in fact, the Mohawks’ final season in the SOC I —where they have resided since 2014, but will return to the larger-school SOC II next year.
But that is then, as Friday night — and a win over a talented Notre Dame unit — was now.
“They (Titans) were favored to win the conference in the preseason, but unfortunately for them, the (Cody) Metzler kid went down (with serious leg injury) and that changes things up a bit. But it was a good hard-fought game,” said Crabtree. “Our kids stepped up and made plays in crunch time.”
And, when the Titans made it 21-12 — following an eight-play, 72-yard, four-first down and four-minute and 40-second scoring drive to open the third quarter.
That’s when the senior Miller fielded the ensuing kickoff, and returned it 81 yards to paydirt with seven minutes remaining in the period.
Following that touchdown, Lintz had his only missed PAT —but the Mohawks had the momentum right back, only 13 seconds after Notre Dame scored.
“Shane Miller makes a huge play to bust that kick return,” said Crabtree.
NDHS veteran head coach Bob Ashley concurred that Miller’s return turned the Titans’ fortunes on a dime.
“The kickoff return was really bad for us,” he said. “That was crucial. We had momentum coming out in the second half and scoring, and to let that one go, it was a back-breaker. Now we’re playing from behind by two touchdowns again. And it’s hard to play from behind against them, because they have a good offense that fits their personnel.”
Notre Dame trailed by at least nine points for the final 25 minutes and 18 seconds — the second and final nine-point deficit of which was at 27-18 with two-and-a-half minutes to play in the third.
The Titans took eight plays and 61 yards, as Gavin Hart —who hit for 108 yards on a dozen rushes —had a 29-yard touchdown run.
But the Mohawks had another immediate answer, going nine plays and 68 yards in four-and-a-half minutes with four first downs — and Brackman completing his hat trick of TDs to make it 34-12.
Northwest nailed down the win with 21 points over the final nine minutes and 55 seconds — thanks to the Titans’ high snap on the punt attempt and 11-yard team loss, and Lintz’s second interception of Notre Dame’s Wyatt Webb and subsequent 25-yard return.
Leading 41-18, the Mohawks went eight plays, 75 yards and three-and-a-half minutes for their sixth and final scoring drive —as Butler’s plunge from three yards out, and Lintz’s final of six PAT kicks, kick-started the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule for the final two minutes and four seconds.
As part of the Mohawks holding the ball — which resulted in no fumbles, no punts, 315 rushing yards on 53 attempts, 61 plays to the Titans’ 43 including a 42-15 first-half advantage and a 27-13 edge in first downs —they built a 21-6 halftime lead on three full possessions.
The first was a six-first down, 13-play, 68-yard and 5:56 series, followed by a four-first down, 10-play, 56-yard and 3:43 possession —and then the monster five-first down, 17-play, 93-yard and nine minutes and four seconds march.
“When you get behind like that, it makes it so difficult on you,” said Ashley. “You hate to go away from your running game, but you kind of have to in that situation. The clock starts going against you and you get predictable on downs.”
Butler went in from five yards out on the first, followed by Brackman finishing dives of five and three yards on the next two.
Besides Northwest running at will on the Titans, Bolin mixed in four pass attempts in each half.
“Our line did a great job for our backs, and we were able to control the clock and the line of scrimmage and that’s what wins ballgames,” said Crabtree.
For the Titans, when they did have the ball, Webb was intercepted twice by Lintz —combined with the bad punt snap to Seison, setting up the Mohawks’ sixth score that made it 41-18.
Webb was 10-of-16 for 131 yards passing, including four completions to Seison for 67 yards —as Webb had two of the Titans’ TDs on the ground.
The closest Notre Dame got was 7-6 — following a three-first down, seven-play, 61-yard and two-minute and 11-second scoring drive on its opening possession.
The Titans’ second series resulted in a three-and-out, and their third ended in Lintz’s initial interception —in the red zone followed by a 45-yard return.
Notre Dame didn’t make any of its three extra-point attempts either —a blocked kick, a failed kick, and a two-point conversion pass in which the Mohawks tackled Myles Phillips about a yard shy of the goal line.
“I am proud of our guys for battling and playing hard, but we just didn’t have many possessions, we made too many mistakes, we didn’t make a play or couldn’t get a stop,” said Ashley. “A down here and there all add up and really make a difference.”
And, according to Crabtree, what a difference a few weeks has made with the Mohawks —all adding up, so far, for a September to remember.
“To see our kids regroup and come together, after a couple of weeks early on where some things didn’t go our way, it’s an awesome feeling as a coach,” he said. “The kids were really having fun out there tonight against a good Notre Dame team. To be able to physically handle them the way we did, it’s a testament to these kids and the work they put in.”
* * *
Notre Dame 6 0 12 0 —18
Northwest 7 14 6 21 — 48
N — Kory Butler, 5-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 6:00, 1st (7-0 N)
ND — Wyatt Webb, 4-yard run (kick blocked), 3:44, 1st (7-6 N)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 5-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 11:56, 2nd (14-6 N)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 3-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 1:18, 2nd (21-6 N)
ND — Wyatt Webb, 5-yard run (kick failed), 7:11, 3rd (21-12 N)
N — Shane Miller, 81-yard kickoff return (kick failed), 6:58, 3rd (27-12 N)
ND — Gavin Hart, 29-yard run (pass failed), 2:32, 3rd (27-18 N)
N — Wyatt Brackman, 5-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 9:55, 4th (34-18 N)
N — Connor Lintz, 18-yard pass from Tanner Bolin (Connor Lintz kick), 7:02, 4th (41-18 N)
N — Kory Butler, 3-yard run (Connor Lintz kick), 2:04, 4th (48-18 N)
First downs 13 27
Scrimmage plays 43 61
Rushes-yards 27-114 53-315
Passing yards 131 107
Total yards 245 422
Cmp-Att-Int. 10-16-2 7-8-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties (No.-Yards) 3-15 7-50
Punts-Ave. 1-46 0-0
RUSHING — Notre Dame: Gavin Hart 12-108 TD, Wyatt Webb 6-5 2TD, Dylan Seison 2-13, Myles Phillips 3-2, Marcellus Woods 2-(-2), Bryce McGraw 1-(-1), Team 1-(-11); Northwest: Wyatt Brackman 27-172 3TD, Kory Butler 14-72 2TD, Connor Lintz 3-35, Tanner Bolin 2-20, Shane Miller 1-13, Brady Doss 3-5, Lane Gilley 2-2, Carter Runyon 1-(-4)
PASSING — Notre Dame: Wyatt Webb 10-6-2-131; Northwest: Tanner Bolin 7-8-0-107 TD
RECEIVING —Notre Dame: Dylan Seison 4-67, Landon Barbarits 2-38, Myles Phillips 2-11, Gavin Hart 1-11, Carter Campbell 1-4; Northwest: Connor Lintz 5-65 TD, Kory Butler 1-26, Shane Miller 1-16