Times Sports Editor
SPENCER -- With both teams coming into Friday's football game with 3-1 overall marks and unblemished conference records, it wasn't surprising that the game harkened back to some of the battles the squads locked horns in the during the early part of the decade.
The Patriots ran hard behind a talented offensive line and the Knights went to their strength, the passing game. In the end, Northview's defense made some pivotal stops and the Knights left Spencer with a hard fought, 28-20 Western Indiana Conference victory.
"We knew it was going to be (a slugfest)," coach George Gettle said. "Owen Valley has a nice line up front. Their bread and butter is ISO-Power, which is nothing that we didn't expect. When you have some big linemen and some running backs that run hard, kids that don't make mistakes, it's tough to stop."
Indeed, the Patriots ran the ball 50 times in the game and racked up 210 yards of rushing, however, Northview quarterback, Trent Lancaster threw for 263 yards and two scores and rushed for two more scores.
It was the defense that came up with some big plays in the second half, recovering a fumble after a long run by the Patriots' 192-pound running back, Cody Christian. The Knights also blocked a punt, though the Patriots recovered for a first down, and forced another punt with 3:08 left in a one-possession game.
The Knights were then able to get a pair of first downs to run out the clock for the victory.
"I felt there late in the game we had some key stops. They had the turnover late in the game that gave us the ball back," Gettle said. "We weren't able to march the ball down and score, but we were able to march it a few times and get first downs and eat some clock until we could kneel the ball and win the game."
Owen Valley went right to its powerful running game as Jonathan Hershberger got the first drive duties. He carried eight times on the first drive with modest success, but it was quarterback, Brennan Tarrence that hit Nakul Deo for a 31-yard strike through the air. The kick failed and the Knights led 7-6 late in the first period.
The game plan was quickly obvious for the Knights.
Lancaster went up top on the second play of the next drive and found Zac Niehaus for a 35-yard gain and just one play later, took the ball himself for a 23-yard score with 1:52 left in the quarter.
The Patriots weren't fazed and went to Evan White in the backfield for the second drive and he carried seven times in an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in his 13-yard TD run. The conversion pass was good and the game was knotted at 14-apiece.
On the ensuing kick-off, Niehaus fell on an onsides kick, but came up limping with an ankle sprain that would sideline him the remainder of the contest.
With one of its big play weapons out, the Knights went to another.
Starting the drive at the 45-yard line, Lancaster found Butts open for a 42-yard TD less than two minutes after the Patriots' score.
The Knights' defense came up with its first big stop, forcing a punt to set up another big play drive.
Lancaster struck for a 41-yard pass to Butts down to the 23-yard line and then took it the rest of the way himself for a 28-14 lead.
On Owen Valley's next drive, the Knights came up with a stop on fourth down to get the ball back at its own 41-yard line. With an opportunity to extend the lead before halftime, Owen Valley's Gryfen Brinson, the state-leader in interceptions, got his sixth of the season, picking off Lancaster deep in Patriot territory.
The turnover ended the half with the Knights missing out on a key opportunity.
"It was a slugfest. Early on there in the first half I thought we played about as well as we could, then we had the interception down there on our end when we could have put the dagger in there and go up by three scores," Gettle pointed out. "That was kind of a big switch in momentum (for Owen Valley)."
Starting the second half, Owen Valley came out determined and went back to its strength, the running game.
White got the call to open the second half and the Patriots marched 67 yards with a combination of White and Christian getting the carries. White finished the drive with a four-yard score and the Patriots were within 28-20 with 5:28 left in the third period.
The end of the third period and fourth quarter was the game's battle in a nutshell as each team was forced to punt.
The Knights forced a Patriot punt from the 49-yard line and Butts got a hand on the ball, but the ball was touched by a Northview player and Owen Valley ended up with a first down. The Patriots looked as if it might be in business as Christian broke loose on a fourth-and-five running play, but he was stripped of the ball after a 24-yard run and Hyatt recovered.
From there, the team's each traded a possession as the Knights forced the late punt and the offense got first down runs from Larry Shaeffer and Lancaster to run out the clock for the win.
Afterwards, Gettle was pleased with how his team reacted after losing a leader early in the game.
"Obviously we lost (Zac) Niehaus there early, but I'm proud of the kids because we just went on. We subbed in on everything and the kids did a nice job of picking up the slack when (Niehaus) went out of the game. He just has a sprained ankle, don't think it's anything more than that, but it was a little bit too sore to get back out there tonight."
The Knights improve to 4-1 overall and travel to Indianapolis Brebeuf on Friday night.
At Owen Valley
Nv -- Trent Lancaster six-yard pass to Damon Hyatt (Trey Boor kick), 8:53
OV -- Brennan Tarrence 31-yard pass to Nakul Deo (kick failed), 2:55
Nv -- Lancaster 23-yard run (Boor kick), 1:52
OV -- Evan White 13-yard run (Tarrence pass), 10:17
Nv -- Lancaster 42-yard pass to Andrew Butts (Boor kick), 8:43
Nv -- Lancaster 23-yard run (Boor kick)
OV -- White four-yard run (kick failed), 5:28
Rushing -- Nv (Hyatt 8-6, Lancaster 13-85 2TD, Shaeffer 3-14). OV (White 22-124 2TD, Hershberger 19-55, Tarrence 2-(-1), Christian 5-50, #29 2-6).
Passing -- Nv (Lancaster 12-18 263 yards, 2 TD, 1 Int.), OV (Tarrence 5-9-83 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int.)
Receiving -- Nv (Niehaus 2-40, Hyatt 4-57 TD, Butts 6-166 TD). OV (Deo 3-52 TD, Behrman 1-10, Terrell 1-21).