Times Sports Editor
Northview wasted precious few seconds making a statement to visiting South Vermillion's football team on Friday night.
Drake Stevenson took the opening kickoff back 75-yards for a touchdown and the Knights rolled to a 54-8 win to keep the Coal Bucket for the seventh consecutive season.
In fact, Northview's 54 points added to a streak in which they have scored 40-or-more points against South Vermillion in seven straight years as well.
On Friday, the Knights spread the scoring wealth amongst the special teams, defense and offense, which pleased coach George Gettle.
"This was a good team effort," said the Knights' coach. "We scored on offense, defense and special teams. The first half was probably our best half so far. We were a little worried at the start because we had four defensive starters out, but a lot of people stepped up."
After Stevenson gave the Knights an early lead, the defense bent, but didn't break as South Vermillion drove down to the Northview seven-yard line near the end of the first quarter.
Aided by a roughing the punter penalty that extended the drive, the Wildcats pounded the ball forward in the hands of 6-1, 265 lb. running back, Nick Alfke. But on fourth down, quarterback Andy Walsh's pass soared too high in the endzone.
The Knights came right back, gashing the Wildcats with a 24-yard pass from Trent Lancaster to Zac Niehaus before stalling at midfield.
Facing fourth-and-three, the Knights faked the punt, Stevenson scampered 24 yards for the first down to set up a six-yard touchdown pass to Corey Crowder, his first catch of the year.
South Vermillion moved the ball again the next time it had the ball, but again stalled deep in the Knights territory.
The Northview defense stood tall at their 21-yard line and stopped Walsh two yards short of a first down on a fourth-and-eight scramble.
Once more the Knights began a successful march as Lancaster hit Stevenson on the first play for 38 yards and later got Niehaus in stride for 23 more yards.
Wes Sorlie's four-yard run set up a five-yard TD strike to Stevenson in the corner for a 20-0 lead.
Facing a daunting deficit, South Vermillion was forced to open up the offense on the next drive, which proved costly.
Alfke ran for 11 yards on the first play of the drive, but on first down at the 44-yard line, Kade Baker stepped in front of Walsh's pass and raced down the side line for a 55-yard touchdown.
"We felt like we let two games get away that we could have won," said Gettle. "The kids really rose up tonight and were able to carry over momentum."
The momentum carried over into the second half for the Knights, who stuck the Wildcats on their first drive, four plays and punt.
Northview wouldn't be stopped on their first drive, going 10 plays in just over four minutes ending with a six-yard score from Lancaster, who threw for 149 yards while completing 13-of-17 passes and running for nearly 70 yards.
The defense continued to fly around and make second half plays, forcing and recovering three fumbles in the half. Tony Fabbri, Crowder and Stevenson all had recoveries.
Forced to throw the ball, the Walsh had eight consecutive incomplete passes in the second half as South Vermillion struggled to move the ball.
Consequently, the Knights were rewarded with short fields that led to a couple of late scores.
Niehaus caught Lancaster's third touchdown pass of the night with 11:03 left in the game to cap a 69-yard, 12-play drive. The talented sophomore caught seven more passes for 93 yards and a score.
Wes Sorlie didn't waste any time on the next drive, taking the handoff and racing 60 yards for the touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. His final carry of the evening gave him 111 yards in the game. Sean Hauser capped the scoring with a one-yard burst with 5:18 left.
Hauser had 46 yards rushing on the drive and shared carries with Dalton Rohr and reserve quarterback Tyler Trout.
South Vermillion dented the scoreboard against Northview's reserve defense with 2:06 remaining as Walsh found Patrick Harpenau on a five-yard pass.
"I thought this was a pretty balanced effort," said Gettle. "We ran the ball effectively and passed effectively too. That's two games in a row our offensive line is getting better. All the kids played hard tonight."
The win improves the Knights to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the WIC. Northview travels to West Vigo next weekend at 7 p.m.
Northview 54, S.Vermillion 8
Nv -- Drake Stevenson 75-yard kickoff return (Ken Wright kick), 11:48
Nv -- Trent Lancaster six-yard pass to Corey Crowder (Wright kick), 10:26
Nv -- Lancaster five-yard pass to Stevenson (kick fired), 5:29
Nv -- Kade Baker 45-yard interception return (Wright kick), 3:36
Nv -- Lancaster six-yard run (kick failed), 6:40
Nv -- Lancaster 11-yard pass to Zac Niehaus (kick good), 11:03
Nv -- Wes Sorlie 60-yard run (kick good), 5:18
SV -- Andy Walsh five-yard pass to Patrick Harpeneau (pass good), 2:06
Rushing -- Northview: Lancaster 10-69, Sorlie 10-111 TD, Stevenson 4-32, Trout 3-0, Hauser 5-46 TD, Rohr 3-5. S.Vermillion: Alfke 16-112, 15-91, McGaha 3-7, Hoggatt 1-(-3).
Passing -- Northview: Lancaster 13-17 149 yards, 3 TD, Trout 0-0 0 yards. S.Vermillion: Walsh 7-21 102 yards, 1 Int., 1 TD.
Receiving -- Northview: Boetjer 2-42, Niehaus 7-93 TD, Crowder 1-6 TD, Stevenson 3-43 TD, Sorlie 1-3. S.Vermillion: McGaha 2-28, Mumaw 3-51, Harpeneau 2-13 TD.