SPENCER -- In a Friday night game that should go a long ways in deciding who could contend for the Western Indiana Conference football title this season the Northview Knights picked up only their second ever victory over Owen Valley 24-6.
Both teams came into the game with unblemished WIC marks with the Patriots boasting a 3-0 record and the Knights a 2-0 mark, but it was Northview who got some big plays from their defense and a key punt return for a touchdown by Michael Landry to pull away in the second half for the win.
The game was a pretty good representation of the Knights' season thus far as some stellar defensive plays helped to boost the sometimes inconsistent offense.
"Defensively I think we're fine," said coach George Gettle. "Offensively we never got in shape. . .we only ran 16 plays in the first half."
After a scoreless first quarter by both teams, the Knights would get on the board first when a stellar punt from Aaron Bays pinned the Patriots on their own one-yard line to open the second period.
The defense wouldn't give and forced a Patriot punt from their own seven yard line which was shanked and gave Northview possession on Owen Valley's 20 yard line.
Quarterback Broc Miller ran eight yards on the first play before back-to-back runs from Eric Rissler got the Knights in the endzone for the game's first score.
The Patriots however bounced right back to get on the board as quarterback Levi Deckard scrambled for a 28-yard gain. The Knights committed a personal foul on the play with a late hit and suddenly Owen Valley was in Northview territory.
Owen Valley stuck to the ground game to find the endzone on a five yard run by Deckard to cap a nine-play, 68 yard drive. However, the extra point was no good which left the Knights out front at the halftime break.
In the second half the Knights received the opening kickoff but was unable to move the ball on their series to force a punt. The ensuing kick by Bays was fumbled by the Patriot's returner and a host of Knights covered the ball to give the Knights great field position on the Owen Valley 24-yard line.
From there the Knights pressed the ball forward to the nine yard line on the ground but couldn't get the first down. Matt Crooks came in and nailed a 26-yard field goal to put Northview ahead 10-6.
"One of our strengths this season has been our punting and kicking. Tonight our special teams came up huge for us," said Gettle.
On the Patriots' next possession, Northview forced them into a third-and-four situation from their own 30-yard line. Zach Godsey then found himself in the backfield and was able to bring down Deckard for a 10-yard loss on a sack to push the Patriots back to fourth-and-14. The punt from the 20-yard line was picked up by Michael Landry in Northview territory and he was off to the races untouched for the score and a little breathing for the Knights at 17-6.
"That punt return by Michael (Landry) kind of gave us some breathing room and let us settle down a little bit," noted Gettle.
With the margin spread out the Knights' defense pinned their ears back and despite allowing a long drive through the air to the Patriots, didn't allow any more points.
Owen Valley reached the Northview seven yard line on an 84-yard drive, but on third-and-1, the Northview defense again stood strong and sacked Deckard for a five-yard loss and on fourth down Deckard threw incomplete to give the Knights the ball back.
Northview would score once more when a 53-yard punt from Bays again pinned the Patriots deep in their own territory.
Owen Valley would turn the ball over on downs to give Northview possession on the 17-yard line and five plays later, Rissler scored from four yards out to provide the final margin.
"The defense is really the reason we're 4-1," commented Gettle. "I told the kids last week that this game could go a long way in deciding the conference. It's tough to win on the road. I'm really proud of these kids."
The Knights will remain on the road next Friday night with a big trip to Vincennes for the Alices' Homecoming game.
Brady Shoemaker intercepted two more passes on Friday night to extend his state-leading total to seven on the year.
Zach Godsey pounded out 150 yards rushing in the victory on Friday, averaging just under nine yards per carry.
NV -- Rissler seven-yard run (kick good), 8:39
OV -- Deckard five-yard run (kick failed), 3:55
NV -- Matt Crooks 26-yard fieldgoal, 7:18
NV -- Landry 60 yard punt return (kick good), 4:55
NV -- Rissler four-yard run (kick good), 2:09
Rushing -- Northview (34-215): Godsey 17-150, Rissler 12-35 2TD, Miller 4-22, Chamberlain 1-8. Owen Valley (30-76): Bush 17-59, Deckard 11-13, Feltner 2-4.
Passing -- Northview (3-10 13 yards): Miller 3-10 13 yards, 1 Int. Owen Valley (7-23 92 yards) Deckard 7-23 92 yards, 2 Int.
Receiving -- Northview: King 1-1 yard, Landry 1-6 yards, Trout 1-6 yards. Owen Valley: Bybee 3-29, Jones 2-40, Cochran 1-17, Taylor 1-6.