Times Sports Editor
NASHVILLE -- Though it may have taken Northview longer than they anticipated to take care of business at Brown County on Friday night, the Knights can still claim a Western Indiana Conference championship.
Northview got off to a slow start on the road against the Eagles, but finished with a flurry to claim a 40-12 WIC victory and an unbeaten conference mark for the 2009 season.
On the bus ride to Nashville for the regular season finale, the Knights' busses took a longer route than originally planned and got to the field a bit behind schedule according to coach George Gettle. The unintended detour put the Knights behind their regular schedule in pre-game preparation and it showed in the first quarter.
Brown County put together a long opening game drive that eventually stalled at the Knights 21-yard line and Northview went four-plays and out deep in its own territory to start the contest. Playing in a misting rain that created a soggy playing surface, both teams couldn't get untracked early.
It was the Eagles that got on the scoreboard first as quarterback Clint Fowler, just 5'7, 148 lbs., broke free after being stopped short on a fourth-and-1 play at the Knights' 24-yard line. The diminutive signal caller shook loose of a tackle and found paydirt for a 6-0 Eagles' lead to open the second quarter.
Northview finally got untracked on its next drive as Zac Niehaus brought the kickoff out to the 47-yard line to give the Knights their best field position of the game.
After a pair of Trent Lancaster runs to open the drive, Damon Hyatt got around the end for a 31-yard gain to set up first-and-goal for the Knights. Two plays later, Lancaster found Drake Stevenson for a seven-yard TD pass. Niehaus' kick gave Northview a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The Northview defense constantly had pressure on Fowler in the pocket and the duress led to losses of 36 yards on his final three rushes of the first half and the Eagles didn't convert another first down over the final nine minutes of the half.
The Knights added a late score on a sterling deep pass from Lancaster to Andrew Butts that went for 37 yards and a score to put Northview up 14-6 at the half.
With the game still a one possession contest, the Knights took the second half kickoff and drove deep into Eagles territory as Lancaster found Niehaus twice on passes for 22 total yards and then hit Jon Bradshaw for a 23-yard pass and Stevenson for another 15 to the Eagles seven-yard line. However, Fowler picked Lancaster off near the goal line to half the drive.
The Eagles had some success on their next possession, moving the ball to the 46-yard line as Fowler found Devon White for 14 yards and Michael Leggins, a 5'10, 227 lb. running back, bowled ahead for an 11-yard gain. From there, the Knights stuffed Brown County at midfield and forced a punt.
The kick left the Knights a long field as the drive started at Northview's 12-yard line, but it wasn't enough to stop the offense, which was heating up in the chilly conditions.
Damon Hyatt ripped off a 28-yard run to start the drive and Lancaster found Butts for a 12-yard gain. Hyatt broke a 15 and a nine-yard run to the Eagles' nine-yard line and a first-and-goal.
The Knights were called for an illegal chop block on a quarterback sneak the next play to push them back to the 21-yard line, but Lancaster hit Bradshaw for a wide open TD pass and a 20-6 lead.
From there, the Knights pinned their ears back on defense to force another punt in four plays and the offense came right back with its quick strike ability. A five-play drive went 58 yards and resulted in a 24-yard scoring pass to Niehaus to break the game open starting the fourth period.
In the final 12 minutes, the Eagles scored their final touchdown on a bit of trickery as Devon White scored from 16 yards out on a reverse to narrow the gap to 27-12, but the Knights added the final two scores.
Lancaster hit Stevenson on a screen pass that went for a 61-yard TD on the third play of the next drive and Sean Hauser made the most of his three carries, rambling for 30 yards, including a 16-yard TD run to cap the scoring.
The victory gives the Knights an 8-1 record heading to the postseason where they will face Jasper at home in the opening round of sectional play at 7 p.m.
At Brown County
BC -- Clint Fowler 24-yard run (run failed), 11:08
NV -- Trent Lancaster seven-yard pass to Drake Stevenson (Zac Niehaus kick), 8:51
NV -- Lancaster 37-yard pass to Andrew Butts (Niehaus kick), 2:10
NV -- Lancaster 21-yard pass to Jon Bradshaw (kick failed), 1:59
NV -- Lancaster 24-yard pas to Niehaus (Niehaus kick), 10:48
BC -- Devon White 16-yard run (conversion failed), 6:10
NV -- Lancaster 61-yard pass to Stevenson (Niehaus kick), 5:03
NV -- Sean Hauser 16-yard run (kick failed), 1:34
Rushing -- Northview: Hyatt 9-92, Lancaster 12-53, Hauser 3-30 TD, Stevenson 1-0. Brown County: Grabor 15-58, Fowler 14-(-48) TD, Leggins 12-68, White 1-16 TD.
Passing -- Northview: Lancaster 15-21 249 yards, 5TD, 1 Int. Brown County: Fowler 4-12 84 yards, 0TD, 1 Int.
Receiving -- Northview: Niehaus 3-46 TD, Bradshaw 4-50 TD, Stevenson 4-95 2TD, Butts 4-58 TD. Brown County: Anderson 1-34, Leggins 1-9, White 2-31.