Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- Agonizing.
That might be the word that best describes the final five minutes of Friday's football contest between Northview and Terre Haute North.
That span of time on the game clock was the difference between a potential 21-14 Northview win and the final score, a tough, 26-21 defeat that left most Knights' fans scratching their heads.
The Patriots scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 3:43 of the game to escape with a victory that Northview has to feel it earned.
The teams battled to a 14-14 deadlock at halftime, but the Knights came out in the second half and pounded the ball right at the Patriots in a 10-play, 52-yard drive to grab a 21-14 advantage.
They would hold that lead deep into the fourth quarter when North took over at its own 22-yard line following a Knights' punt.
Northview, who had held the Patriots to just 10 yards on the ground to that point, gave up a 67-yard run to Daniel Gabbard through the right side. The run set the Patriots up at the Northview 11-yard line and breathed life into Terre Haute North's stagnant offense.
The Knights took over with 3:35 left in the game at its own 35-yard line.
A run by Trent Lancaster lost three yards on the first play, but Wes Sorlie battled for three yards and on third down, Lancaster dove ahead for eight yards. However, the Knights were a yard short, bringing up fourth-and-one.
Gettle didn't hesitate in calling for the punt.
"I knew we were going to punt," said Gettle. "We were going to try and draw them offsides, but the play clock was low. We planned on punting because we didn't want to give them a short field. We were supposed to kick it out of bounds like we had the previous two times."
The fact that the punt didn't get out of bounds is a memory that will remain in quite a few players' minds for different reasons.
Gabbard hauled the punt in along the sideline at the 18-yard line, cutback across a couple of defenders and got a block that sprung him free all the way down the sideline for an 82-yard punt return for a TD that dashed the Knights' dreams of a victory.
Northview would have had 1:34 left to try and get the potential winning TD, but North's kickoff was short and fell into empty space. The Patriots were the first to the ball and they recovered to end any potential comeback.
"We played good enough to win at times," mentioned Gettle. "We knew it was going to be a tight game. Obviously we're better today than we were the first week, but we're still not good enough to overcome so many mistakes."
In the first half, North marched down the field on its opening possession, getting a 16-yard pass completion from Chad Holler to Sisson down to the Knights' 44-yard line. On third down-and-10 at the Knights 31-yard line, Holler again found Sisson, this time for a TD for a 7-0 lead.
Northview, on its opening possession, faced a quick third down-and-10 from its own eight-yard line, but converted it on a 17-yard completion to Zac Niehaus.
From there, the Knights marched down the field methodically in an 18-play drive that saw five different players carry the ball.
Drake Stevenson, Lancaster, Kade Baker, Nathan Williams and finally, Sorlie, bulled a one-yard handoff in for the tying score with 1:21 left in the quarter.
When the Patriots got the ball back, they drove back down the field to score on an 18-yard run by Gabbard to cap a 10-play drive.
The Knights fumbled the ball away on the second play of their next drive, but the defense began to take over the game.
Northview's defense held strong on a fourth-and-one situation at midfield and sparked the offense.
Lancaster was the yeoman of the drive, at one point carrying the ball six straight plays for 30 yards before Sorlie broke through for six yards. Lancaster was back at it again the next three plays to finish off the 56-yard drive with a one-yard TD plunge to tie the score.
The remainder of the next quarter and a half, the Knights' defense proved dominant, strangling the North offense with a pair of Jordan Keller sacks for huge yardage losses. Holler was knocked from the game late and Jonathan Bradshaw broke free to tackle the Patriots' punter for a turnover.
However, it was the final five minutes that proved the undoing of the Knights.
"We had some breakdowns on special teams and North changed their front on us in the second half," said Gettle. "In the first half and late into the third quarter we were in control. They made some adjustments on us and we didn't want to go to the air and make a mistake that way.
"Our defense played better and got some stops. We pick a pass off in the endzone and they get a touchdown. It's those little things," Gettle finished.
The Knights return home Friday night to take on Sullivan in another WIC match-up at 7 p.m.
At Terre Haute North
T.H. North 26, Northview 21
THN -- Chad Holler 31-yard pass to Billy Sisson (Wayne Bush kick), 8:55
Nv -- Wes Sorlie one-yard run (Ken Wright kick), 1:21
THN -- Daniel Gabbard 18-yard run (Bush kick), 10:00
Nv -- Trent Lancaster one-yard run (Wright kick), 2:09
Nv -- Wes Sorlie five-yard run (Wright kick), 6:04
THN -- Frank Willis 10-yard pass to Sisson (kick failed), 3:43
THN -- Gabbard 82-yard punt return (pass failed), 1:34
Rushing -- Northview: T.Lancaster 25-108 TD, Baker 5-25, Sorlie 9-38 2TD, Stevenson 1-5, Williams 1-1; T.H. North: King 9-36, Holler 4-(-21), Gabbard 7-79 TD, Weatherford 2-(-10), Willis 1-(-1).
Passing -- Northview: T.Lancaster 6-13 38 yards, 1 Int.; T.H. North: Holler 8-15 103 yards, 0 Int. 1 TD. Willis 1-1 10 yards, 0 Int. 1 TD.
Receiving -- Northview: Boetjer 1-26, Niehaus 2-20, Stevenson 2-(-3), Baker 1-(-5); T.H. North: Sisson 4-60, Willis 2-20, King 2-20, Gabbard 1-13.