Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights were one play away from securing a victory against rival Terre Haute North on Friday night, but a converted fourth down pass from back-up quarterback Brian Gehrich to tightend Calvin Blank led to a QB scramble for the game-winning score with just 46 seconds left for the Patriots.
Gehrich scored off a bootleg, three-yard run to give the Patriots their first win of the season against the Knights, 19-16.
The game came down to several crucial plays and calls that cost both teams dearly at the time.
The Knights fell behind 7-0 early as sophomore starting quarterback Chris Barrett found Austin Lewis for a seven-yard TD catch with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter.
Northview was pinned deep in its own territory for much of the first half and didn't get beyond its down 39-yard line until the final drive of the opening half.
The teams traded interceptions late in the first period as Lewis intercepted Northview's Dallas King and the Knights' Damon Hyatt returned the favor against Barrett.
The defense for Northview held fast on a fourth-and-14 attempt at its own 38-yard line and took over on downs to set up the first pivotal play in the game.
Wide receiver Patrick Durcholz took a pitch that froze the Patriots' secondary for a second to allow Hyatt to break wide open and catch a 70-yard pass for an apparent score. However, a penalty brought the play back and the Knights were also called for an unsportsmanlike penalty that set Northview back to its own 27-yard line and took a score off the board.
"I'm very proud and very frustrated," Northview coach George Gettle said. "If we don't get the touchdown called back, we win the football game. Plain and simple, period, end of story, we beat ourselves. Terre Haute North didn't beat us tonight, we beat ourselves. We had a penalty on the touchdown, we give them a vertical route because we don't re-route the guy and we give them a quarterback out of the back of the formation because we flat told the kids that was coming. Three plays beat us in this game, it's a game of inches and we've got some things to work on."
The Patriots forced a punt on the drive and on North's subsequent drive, Gehrich would find Lewis for a lobbed 45-yard scoring pass and a 13-0 lead.
Powerful back Jessie Miller was kept in reserve during the first half with just four carries, but he was quickly utilized to great affect in the second half.
Miller pounded out a 12-yard run on the first play of the third period and added another four-yard carry, but Northview faced a fourth down and four situation on its own 35-yard line and decided to punt. However, the Patriots made a big mistake of their own, roughing the kicker for an automatic first down.
The Knights made them pay as Hyatt took a hand off two plays later, reversed field and rumbled 47-yards down the sideline for a huge momentum shift as Northview trailed just 13-10.
The second big mistake for the Patriots came on the next Northview drive after King found Durcholz for a 26-yard reception and Miller pounded out 26 yards on four straight carries. The Patriots were called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty to move the ball to their own 20-yard line. Five plays later it was Miller pounding to the goal line and stretching the ball across for a 16-13 Knights' lead with 8:56 left in the game.
"When we wanted to go to Jesse (Miller) and when we wanted to line up two tight, we mashed the ball down the field," Gettle said of the second half rushing success. "We mashed the football down the field and got first downs and put the ball in the endzone and that's fine with us."
The Patriots nearly squandered their last chance as Gehrich fumbled on the third play of the next drive and the Knight's Tyler Wilson recovered, but the defense held against the Knights and gave North one more chance starting at its 11-yard line.
Gehrich ran twice for 23 yards and then hit Blank for 25 yards down to the Knights' 38-yard line, but Northview stiffened to set up a fourth-and-eight situation, but Gehrich found Blank on the vertical route for a first down at the 18-yard line and four plays later Gehrich scored on the bootleg for the game-winner.
"We'll get better, but I'm very upset for our kids because they played their hearts out. We had a great plan both offensively and defensively, things couldn't have gone any better," Gettle said. "I'm very proud of our kids, we played good football tonight and we should have won that game, nobody will convince me otherwise."
The Knights are now 1-2 overall and travel to Sullivan next week for a 7 p.m. conference game.
THN -- Austin Lewis seven-yard reception from Chris Barrett (Potter kick), 5:52
THN -- Lewis 45-yard reception from Brian Gehrich (kick failed), 3:53
Nv -- Trey Boor 29-yard fieldgoal, 0:22
Nv -- Damon Hyatt 47-yard run (Boor kick), 8:35
Nv -- Jesse Williams six-yard run (kick failed), 8:56
THN -- Gehrich three-yard run (kick failed), 0:46.9
Rushing -- Nv (Miller 18-78 TD, King 4-(-1), Hyatt 13-96 TD; THN (Scank 5-32, Barrett 2-2, Stratten 9-19, Gehrich 11-45 TD, Davis 3-4). Passing -- Nv (King 7-18 53 yards, 1 Int., 0 TD). THN (Barrett 2-8 17 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int., Gehrich 5-8 103 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.).
Receiving -- Nv (Hyatt 4-21, Miller 2-6, Durcholz 1-26). THN (Lewis 2-52 2 TD, Gehrich 1-10, Blank 4-55).