The varsity football team traveled to Northmont High School on Friday night to take on a very talented Thunderbolt team looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Both teams were jockeying for playoff position in Division I, Region 2. Adding to the pressure on the Elks was the fact it was Senior Night for Northmont so they were extra motivated to come out on top.
The Elks took the opening kickoff and crossed midfield before being forced to punt. A beautiful punt from Cam Smith pinned Northmont at their own one yard line. The defense forced a three and out giving the ball back to the offense. Unable to move downfield, the Elks punted again and the result was the same as Jonathan Bruder downed the ball at the one. On the first play, the T’Bolts completed a 54 yard pass to enter Elk territory. The defense held from there and got the ball back to the offense on their own 38. This time, they did not let the defense down and drove 62 yards for a score, punctuated by an 11 yard run by Bryce McMahon. Brendan Salo’s PAT gave the visitors a 7-0 lead with 2:37 left in the first quarter. Northmont answered with an 18 yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first quarter sending the teams to quarter two deadlocked, 7-7.
On the ensuing possession, the Elks committed thirty yards of penalties on the same play and were forced to punt, giving the ball back to Northmont on their own 38. Maurice Lawrence stepped in front of a Northmont pass and returned it inside the 20. However, a penalty during the return set the Elks up at the Northmont 31. The offense was unable to get a first down and turned the ball over on downs at the 24. Northmont drove the length of the field and threw a 30 yard touchdown pass on fourth down. A successful PAT gave the hosts a 14-7 lead with 2:48 left before halftime. The Elks drove to the 36, but threw an interception at the three yard line with nine seconds to go sending both teams to their respective locker rooms with Northmont clinging to a 14-7 lead.
The hosts came out of the locker room and struck quickly with a long touchdown pass just one minute into the third quarter. The PAT was no good, but Northmont now had a 20-7 lead with 10:59 left in the third quarter. A methodical drive by the offense resulted in points when, after several runs, quarterback Chase Harrison hit wide receiver Will Jackson-Linkhart with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Salo’s PAT cut the deficit to 20-14 with 4:54 left in the third quarter. The defense held on fourth down at their own 41 on the ensuing possession to give the ball back to the offense with 3:35 left in the third quarter. They drove to the 12 yard line, but fumbled and the defense recovered to snuff out the scoring threat with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Once again, the defense held and gave the ball back to the offense on their own 40 with 28 seconds left in the quarter. After one play, the quarter came to an end and the hosts were clinging to a six point lead with just twelve minutes left in the game.
The offense was unable to get a first down and punted the ball back to Northmont on their own 40. On the first play of the series, they threw a 60 yard touchdown pass. A successful PAT stretched their lead to 27-14 with 10:58 left in the game. The offense went three and out, but Northmont roughed the punter giving them a second chance. They cashed in when McMahon raced in from 21 yards out. The PAT was blocked bringing the score to 27-20 with 8:32 left in the game. The Elks tried an onside kick which bounced free momentarily, but was recovered by Northmont. After picking up one first down, the defense held and forced a Northmont punt. A great punt pinned the Elks at their own two. After getting one first down, the Elks were forced to punt giving Northmont the ball at midfield with 3:23 left and the Elks having all three timeouts. It took the hosts just three plays to put the game on ice as they got a 40 yard touchdown run right up the middle. A successful PAT gave them a 34-20 lead with 2:05 left. The Elks went four and out on their next possession and Northmont ran out the clock to pick up the home win.
Harrison finished 23 for 37 with 228 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McMahon went over 100 yards again as he ran for 126 on 27 carries with two scores. Jackson-Linkhart had nine catches for 137 yards and a score.
On Saturday morning and afternoon at Centerville Stadium in a monsoon, the JV team buried the Thunderbolts, 48-7. That was followed by the freshman game which was won by Northmont, 10-6.
Now 4-5 on the year, the Elks return home for Senior Night this Friday when they welcome the Springboro Panthers to Centerville Stadium. A win over the 8-1 Panthers may get the Elks into the playoffs so a huge crowd is expected as these two rivals collide once again. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.