Times Sports Editor
The sectional opener didn't go quite according to plan for the Northview Knights on Friday night as visiting Greenwood came away with a 28-3 victory that ended the Knights' season at 6-4 overall. The Woodmen advance to the second round of the sectional next weekend.
Friday's battle was decided at the line of scrimmage as Greenwood's linemen claimed the advantage on both sides of the ball and made things difficult for the Knights' running attack while the Woodmen chopped off large rushes early on.
Greenwood got the opening kickoff and advanced down the field bolstered by a pair of big, third down conversions by quarterback Ben Heller, who completed passes of 36 and 15 yards to convert third-and-long situations. The second pass, which went to Trevor Payne, set the Woodmen up at the Knights' two-yard line and Kyle Deal powered in from three yards out for a 7-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
The Knights weren't able to get much going on their first drive, forced to punt after three running plays.
"It's not that we didn't know what we were getting into, but, I want to watch the film, but I think (Greenwood) set the line of scrimmage in our backfield," Northview coach George Gettle said. "The way we've been a running team without much of a quarterback per se with Dallas (King) being injured the last month or so, you have to be able to win the battle up front. I don't think we did that."
The Knights got a break on Greenwood's next offensive series as Damon Hyatt picked off a Heller pass at midfield to give the Knights' good field position.
Though they were pinned deep to start their third drive of the game, Greenwood was undaunted and began to march on an 11-yard run by Tevis Byrne on third down to extend the drive. On third-and-five at the 22-yard line, Heller found Payne again for a first down. The following play, Ethan Bailey scampered 29-yards for the big play of the drive. Greenwood's running attack was on full display as Kole Stogner ripped off a 13-yard run, Deal followed with another nine-yard gash and four plays later it was Deal with a two-yard scoring run.
Northview returned the turnover favor on its next drive as Gage Wells intercepted King and Greenwood took possession at the Knights' 12-yard line. Two plays later Heller hit tightend Brandon Baughman for a 21-0 advantage.
The first positive momentum the Knights had on offense set them up for their only score late in the second quarter as King found Hyatt for a 44-yard reception and followed with an 18-yard strike down to the Greenwood 13-yard line. However, as was the case most of the evening, a penalty flag stalled the drive and forced the Knights to get a 37-yard fieldgoal from Trey Boor to get on the board with just 7.9 seconds left in the half.
Those final seconds were pivotal as they forced the Knights to kick off again and Wells hauled in the kick, found the sideline and raced to the goal line for a 95-yard touchdown that fully swung the momentum back to Greenwood.
The second half became a battle of long, time consuming drives, but the Knights showed they could move the ball with a 12 and a 13-play drive. However, neither garnered a score for Northview and those were the only two possessions of the second half for the Knights.
The Knights moved the ball from their own 20-yard line to the Greenwood 42-yard line, but was forced to punt. The next drive was even more prolific in its length as the Knights moed the ball from its own 43-yard line to the Greenwood one-yard line on a 22-yard reception by Hyatt from King on fourth-and-13. However, a false start penalty at the one-yard line stalled the drive. King was sacked on second down, losing eight yards back to the 14-yard line. A pair of passes by Hyatt went incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.
Greenwood was able to run the clock out on a 16-play drive that ended with the Woodmen taking a knee at the Knights seven-yard line.
Despite the loss that ends the season for the Knights and a highly successful 17-senior group, Gettle expressed his admiration for a tough group of seniors.
"I'm real proud of the seniors. They didn't lose a conference game. We were conference champs again. There are lots of positives, we'll have to look at the film and see where we are at, but I think the better football team established the line of scrimmage."
Sectional opening round
GW -- Kyle Deal three-yard run (Griffin Oakes kick), 8:51
GW -- Deal two-yard run (Oakes kick), 9:30
GW -- Ben Heller nine-yard pass to Brandon Baughman (Oakes kick), 6:57
Nv -- Trey Boor 37-yard fieldgoal, 0:7.9
GW -- Gage Wells 95-yard kickoff return (Oakes kick), 0:00
Rushing -- Nv (Hyatt 16-38, Miller 10-28, King 3-(-13); GW (Stogner 22-96, Heller 5-1, Deal 4-18, Bailey 3-33, Byrne 1-11, Sutton 4-9)
Passing -- Nv (King 7-12 111 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int., Hyatt 0-3 0 yards, Durcholz 0-1 0 yards); Heller 5-6 78 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.)
Receiving -- Nv (Hyatt 5-89, Craig 1-13, Miller 1-16); GW (Payne 3-33, Byrne 1-36, Baughman 1-9 TD).