Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights had No. 8 ranked Jasper on the ropes in Fridayâ€™s sectional opener. Leading late in the game, Jasper had done little on offense most of the game, but somehow they came off the mats.
Jasper was able to withstand a final drive by the Knights and a missed field goal with just eight seconds left to hold on to a 13-10 victory against Northview.
â€śThese kids played hard. That was a great team we were up against,â€ť said Northview coach George Gettle. â€śI think (Jasper) feels fortunate to come out of here with a win.â€ť
The game was a physical slugfest throughout with neither offense having much of a comfort zone and the defenseâ€™s bringing the lumber.
Credit Jasperâ€™s defense for denying Northview twice on fourth down in the second half when the Knights might have put the game away.
But the Wildcats kept Northview from putting any offensive points on the board in the second half.
Northview opened the scoring after a scoreless first quarter, getting a 29-yard field goal from senior Cody Crooks.
The Knights moved the ball with a 32-yard connection between freshman quarterback Trent Lancaster to Justin White. Lancaster then tucked the ball and ran for a 10-yard gain and Nick Lancaster carried for another seven before the drive stalled.
Crooks converted the fieldgoal to put the Knights out front with 7:30 left in the half.
Jasper came right back, getting their first real drive going.
The Wildcats gave Northview a heavy dose of fullbacks Jacob Bawel and Adam Kunkel who combined to run the ball on the first six plays of the drive.
With a second down play at Northviewâ€™s 46-yard line, sophomore quarterback Austin Ahrens found Andy Binkley for a 15-yard gain and another first down.
Going back to the ground, Jasper pounded the ball at Northview down to the 13-yard line.
Facing a third down and a manageable three yards, the Knights dragged fullback Josh Beck down for a five yard to bring up a fourth-and-eight situation.
Jasper brought out their kicker for the field goal attempt, but drew the Knights offsides with a hard count that got the Wildcats back to within fourth-and-3.
Following the penalty, the Wildcats decided to go for the first down.
Ahrens scrambled out of the pocket to buy some time and found Binkley open and he broke loose to score on a 13-yard reception for a TD.
Jasper went for the two-point conversion after another Northview penalty gave the Wildcats half the distance to the goal line on the after point attempt. But the Knights warded off the running attempt to trail just 6-3 at halftime.
â€śDefense has been our strength all year,â€ť said Gettle. â€śThey werenâ€™t able to pass much and we did a nice job executing.â€ť
Opening the second half, neither team had much success on offense.
Jasper went backwards on their first drive with the Knights hammering Ahrens on a pair of sacks to send the Wildcats back to a fourth-and-17 situation and a punt.
Northview went three plays and out on their next drive and got just one first down the next drive.
But it was their defense that gave them the boost when it counted.
Starting from their own 22-yard line, Jasper gained no yardage in three plays and were forced to punt.
The ensuing snap was bobbled by their kicker and scooted back toward the endzone. Northviewâ€™s Dylan Kruse raced past the kicker, scooped the ball up and tumbled into the endzone for six points and the lead following Crooksâ€™ extra point.
Suddenly trailing 10-6, Jasper returned the kickoff to the 45-yard line.
Facing a third-and-five situation, Ahrens came up with a big throw to the far sideline where Binkley gathered in a 21-yard first down catch.
That play proved to be just what Jasper needed as they moved down inside the Knightsâ€™ 10-yard line where Bawel pounded the ball in for the go ahead score with 10:09 to go in the game.
Both teams traded drives before the Knights got their final chance, taking over with under three minutes remaining.
Starting from their own 25-yard line, the Knights got a first down on a six yard run by Nathan Williams and Lancaster found White for a big 26-yard pass play to Jasperâ€™s 34-yard line.
With the clock continuing to run, Jasperâ€™s defense put the Knights in a difficult situation after dropping Williams for a one-yard loss and pulling Nick Lancaster down for a seven yard loss on a screen pass.
Facing third-and-18, Lancaster stood tall in the pocket and found senior Jered Timm for a leaping 17-yard reception.
Following a timeout, and facing a fourth-and-one situation, Lancaster scrambled to his left and lofted a pass to Tyler Coltharp. However, the pass was just a bit long and the Wildcats seemed to have won.
Fortunately for the Knights, Jasper was a bit late on their hit of Lancaster and drew a 15-yard penalty and a first down for the Knights with 37.4 seconds.
Again the Wildcatsâ€™ defense dropped the Knights for losses on back-to-back plays to push the ball back to the eight-yard line.
With just 8.6 seconds remaining, Gettle chose to bring out Crooks for a fieldgoal attempt.
The kick sailed just a tad wide and the Wildcats survived to battle next week.
â€śThatâ€™s the breaks,â€ť commented Gettle. â€śWeâ€™ve got a lot of young kids, this is a heartbreaking loss. I feel bad for our seniors, they really stepped up to the plate.â€ť
The Knights say goodbye to a senior class that won four straight conference championships and were a combined 30-10.
The senior class consists of Timm, Nick Lancaster, Zach Kirby, Caleb Whitman, Jason Blackburn, Ross Crooks, Kruse, Coltharp, Derek Rose, Jared Staley, Nathan Disney, Adam Phipps, Brock Vanatti and Cody Crooks.
Jasper 13, Northview 10
Nv â€" Cody Crooks 29-yard field goal, 7:30
Jasper â€" Austin Ahrens 13-yard pass to Andy Binkley (run failed), 1:09
Nv â€" Dylan Kruse fumble recovery (Crooks kick), 1:11
Jasper â€" Jacob Bawel one-yard run (Santos kick), 10:09
Rushing â€" Northview: N.Lancaster 7-17, Williams 8-20, T.Lancaster 9-26, Baker 7-11, White 1-6, Sorlie 1-1; Jasper: Bawel 20-96, Ahrens 5-(-6), Kunkel 10-20, Beck 2-1.
Passing â€" Northview: T.Lancaster 9-13 113 yards, 0 Int., 0 TD; Austin Ahrens 6-13 62 yards, 0 Int. 1 TD.
Receiving â€" Northview: Timm 6-78, White 2-58, Baker 1-(-11), N.Lancaster 1-(-7); Jasper: Binckley 3-49, Knies 2-7, Messier 1-7.