- Pioneers get winning score with 37 seconds remaining -
The first sectional football victory was tantalizingly close for the Northview Knights on Friday night. In fact, just eight yards stood between them and running out the clock on a 29-26 victory over Mooresville. But that eight yards proved to be the backbreaker.
Mooresville's Josh Jones stepped in front of a Logan Whitman pass on third-and-eight yards on the Pioneer 28-yard line with less than four minutes remaining that helped set up his own six-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds remaining to give Mooresville a 33-29 victory.
"I wish you could take it back," said Northview head coach George Gettle. "We probably could have run the ball twice and given the ball back to them but we just felt that it would have left them with too much time."
Instead it was Northview who was left with just 37 seconds to drive the length of the field, but after two incompletions by Whitman, a pass by Brady Shoemaker was intercepted the close out the victory for Mooresville.
Ironically, early on, it was a completion by Shoemaker to Whitman that got Northview's offense untracked in the first half.
On their third possession of the game, trailing already, 14-0, Shoemaker got the ball on an end around and held up, launching a ball to Whitman on the sideline good for a 25 yard gain to the Pioneer 19-yard line. From there, Whitman returned the favor to Shoemaker for a 17-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 14-7.
But Mooresville's running attack got the Pioneers one more score before halftime, marching 72 yards on 12 plays to set up a Cliff Gentry one-yard run for the touchdown. A two-point conversion run failed however, leaving Mooresville up 20-7 at the break.
Gentry was a big factor in that lead with 63 first half yards on the ground to go with Jones' 70 yards and a touchdown.
The Knights struggled to control them much of the night. But the Knights found out that keeping the pair off the field was the key success for Northview. Something they were able to do in the second half.
Northview got the kickoff to open the second half and with the wind at their backs got on the board quickly with a huge fourth down touchdown grab by Michael Landry who drug his feet along the sideline for a three-yard score. T.J. King had a 68-yard slant pattern reception to get the Knights going on the drive that closed the gap to 20-14.
"We fell behind early, but we stuck to our game plan," commented Gettle afterwards. "We never felt like we were out of it."
In fact, just five plays later the Knights were out in front as Northview defensive back Matt McCluskey intercepted a Kyle Mossbrucker pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown and a 21-20 Northview lead with 8:23 to go in the third quarter.
But Mooresville would respond near the end of the quarter after the Knights' fourth down pass at the Pioneer 33-yard line went incomplete.
Jones would take the first handoff of the drive and ramble 52 yards to the Northview 15-yard line to set up a Gentry one-yard score that recaptured the lead for the Pioneers at 26-21 with 1:31 left in the third quarter.
The quick strike Knights would respond with a 31-yard catch from King on the first play of the next drive to move into Pioneer territory. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Landry would haul in a 17-yard grab to the Mooresville 21-yard line followed by a 13-yard run by Kyle Nees. A pair of incompletions and a two-yard loss on a running play set up a fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line for the Knights.
This time it was King's turn to make the play, snaring a 15-yard Whitman touchdown pass in the back of the endzone for another lead change. Suddenly the Knights were ahead 29-26 with 9:45 left.
"These kids really stepped up tonight," said Gettle. "They all played hard."
The defense came through to stop Mooresville on four plays and forced a punt to take over at their own 36-yard line and the momentum was firmly in hand for Northview.
Jordan Garrison flashed through the Pioneer line for a 24-yard run on the first play of the drive to get into Mooresville territory and the clock kept running. The Knights got a third-down-and five conversion catch from King to setup another set of downs and the clock continued to run ever closer to a sectional victory. A pair of short runs would set up the fateful third-and-eight for Northview and the interception for Jones who also had a game-high 155 yards rushing.
"I just feel bad for the seniors," said Gettle. "This senior class was something special. They put it on their shoulders to turn this program around. They're responsible for getting us to where we're at as a program."
And that would be back the .500 mark, a place Northview hasn't been since 1996. The Knights finish their season at 5-5 overall. The Pioneers move on to face Bloomington North in next week's sectional semifinal.
M -- K.Mossbrucker 19-yard run (Mossbrucker kick), 8:34
M -- Jones 18-yard run (Mossbrucker kick), :27
NV -- Shoemaker 17-yard reception (M.Crooks kick), 6:46
M -- Gentry one-yard run (run failed), 1:04
NV -- Landry three-yard reception (M.Crooks kick), 11:01
NV -- McCluskey 59-yard interception return (M.Crooks kick), 8:23
M -- Gentry one-yard run (pass failed), 1:31
NV -- King 15-yard reception (Landry catch), 9:45
M -- Jones five-yard run (kick good), :37.5
Rushing -- Northview: Garrison 6-35, Nees 7-30, Whitman 5-(-2), Grigsby 1-0. Mooresville: Gentry 24-96, Jones 12-155, Mossbrucker 11-68, Anton 1-7.
Passing -- Northview: Whitman 11-27 192 yards, Shoemaker 1-2 25 yards. Mooresville: K.Mossbrucker 7-9 63 yards.
Receiving -- Northview: King 4-119 TD, Landry 4-49 TD, Shoemaker 3-34 TD, Whitman 1-25. Mooresville: Anton 2-23, White 2-16, Smith 2-19, Gregory 1-5.