The varsity football team traveled to Clayton last night to put their unbeaten record and #4 state ranking on the line against the Northmont Thunderbolts on Homecoming night. The host Thunderbolts came into the game with a 5-2 record looking to solidify their chance at a playoff berth while the Elks were trying to stay on top of the region and solidify their chances of a home playoff game in the first round.
The Elks won the toss and deferred to the second half. The defense forced a Northmont punt and the Elks took the field offensively for the first time. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned as the Elks turned the ball over on an interception giving Northmont the ball on the 25-yard line. Following three successful defensive plays, Northmont was faced with a 4th and 10 and decided to roll the dice and go for it. That gamble paid off big when Kameron Mathis hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Miles Johnson. Brandon Goodwin’s PAT gave the T-‘Bolts a 7-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first quarter. That would be the score as the two teams switched ends of the field to begin the second quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Northmont was driving until senior defensive back Riley Poulton stepped in front of a pass at the ten-yard line to stop the drive and keep the score at 7-0. The Elks were still unable to get anything going offensively and punted the ball back to Northmont. They made that payoff when Johnson and Mathis hooked up for their second touchdown of the game, this time from 8-yards out. Goodwin’s PAT gave the hosts a 14-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first half. Following another punt, Northmont was driving again and this time got some help from the defense. On three consecutive plays, the Elks jumped offside to extend the Northmont drive. They struck for the third time when Devin Kenerly ran in from 19-yards out. Goodwin’s PAT gave the host Thunderbolts a 21-0 lead over a stunned Elks team with just 3:04 left in the first half. Showing the resiliency they have all year, the Elks dug deep and made things happen on their next drive. Senior quarterback Alec Grandin hit senior wide receiver Donovan Shelton over the middle on a short pass play. Shelton’s feet then did a lot of damage as he turned it into a 60-yard gain setting the Elks up deep in Northmont territory. Grandin then hit junior receiver JR Melzer with a 5-yard touchdown pass to put the Elks on the board for the first time. Junior Brandon Walters added the extra point to make the score 21-7 in favor of Northmont with just 31 seconds left in the first half. That would be the score as the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
The Elks started the second half with the ball and started to drive, but could not make anything happen. Following a defensive stop, the Elks struck again when Grandin hit senior receiver Trey King from 3-yards out. Walters’ PAT brought the Elks within seven at 21-14 with 3:31 left in the third quarter. That would be the score as the two teams headed to the fourth quarter.
Following a successful fake punt, the Elks had a first and ten at the Northmont 40 to start the quarter. Unfortunately, they were once again forced to punt the ball back to Northmont who would start their next drive on their own 12-yard line. The Elks defense forced another punt and the offense took over looking for that elusive tying touchdown. They got all the way to the 22-yard line, but were unable to convert on 4th down, turning the ball back over with 5:55 left. One more time, the defense made a stop to give the offense one last chance. The Elks started on their own 40-yard line and drove all the way to the 4-yard line, but their pass into the end zone on 4th and goal was batted down giving the ball back to Northmont with 2:36 left to play. Facing a 3rd and 1 on their own 13-yard line, the offense converted and then used a long running play to put the game on ice and run out the clock on a hard-fought, 21-14 win.
On Thursday night, the Northmont freshman team defeated the Elks, 32-19. This morning, the JV game was played at Schoolhouse Park due to the GWOC Cross Country meet at the high school and that game was also won by Northmont, 26-0, giving them a clean sweep of the weekend’s games.
Now 7-1 on the year and 2-0 in the NL East, the Elks return home for their final two games of the regular season. Up first for the Elks is the Battle of Far Hills when the 6-2 Fairmont Firebirds invade Centerville Stadium on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.