Times Sports Editor
SPENCER -- The Northview Knights used a workman-like effort on the road at Owen Valley to offset an explosive evening by the Patriots' Larry Shaffer. The result was an important, 20-19, win by the Knights that can serve as a foundation for what the team hopes will be continued improvement.
Coming off a shutout loss to Sullivan a week earlier, the Knights moved the ball over the course of the first half against the Patriots, but were denied a spot in the endzone. Conversely, the Patriots were held to just one first down over the opening quarters, but still built a 13-0 lead at the intermission.
"I felt like we were moving the ball in the first half, but we gave up a couple of really big plays that hurt us and got us behind the 8-Ball," Northview coach George Gettle said. "The kids really worked hard. They had a great week of practice. We keep telling them that if they keep working hard and being consistent that good things will happen."
Shaffer, a Northview student/athlete his first two years of high school, made a pair of big plays to provide the scoring for the Patriots.
After an interception by Seth Sparks at the Patriots' one-yard line kept Northview out of the endzone. Shaffer took a hand off on the second play of the drive and cut outside to the sideline and rambled a school-record 96 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Knights tried to answer on the next drive with an eight-play drive to the Patriots' 15-yard line. The big play of the drive was a 31-yard catch by Hunter Ragan from Tucker Stewart. However, it was Shaffer again that came up big as he intercepted Stewart at the 10-yard line and raced up the sideline for a score with 3:31 left in the opening period.
The Knights garnered 84 yards passing and 42 more on the ground before the half, but still trailed 13-0.
The drive very nearly didn't get going as three straight incompletions by Stewart threatened to result in a quick punt, but offsetting personal fouls resulted in a first down and allowed Northview to split 13 running plays between Stewart and Miller to get on the scoreboard.
Gettle credited that first drive for providing the spark his team needed.
"Finally in that second half, everyone put their nose to the grindstone, worked hard to get their blocks and to make the right reads on defense," Gettle said. "With this team, whenever we start getting things going, we seem to play a lot more confident. This is a character building win. We've been trying our hardest to win football games and tonight it was good enough to win."
The momentum was short lived thanks to another big play by Shaffer, who took a handoff on the second play of the following drive, reversed field and took the ball 72 yards for his third TD of the game to make the score 19-7 after the two-point conversion failed.
From that point on however, the Knights locked into overdrive.
The ensuing kickoff was returned to the Knights' 27-yard line and on the first play from scrimmage, Stewart found Tyler Rector open across the middle for a 73-yard score to get within 19-14 late in the third period.
Northview forced a Patriots' punt on the next drive and took over at midfield and went to its senior running back.
Miller carried five times to the 18-yard line and Stewart gained converted a fourth down with a strike to Daniel Kimball to the one-yard line. One play later it was Miller powering in for the go-ahead score after a two-point conversion pass failed.
Overall, Miller carried 36 times for 169 yards for the Knights in an impressive effort.
"That's what we expect out of Jesse (Miller). I thought the offensive line, when they really had to, Owen Valley was stacking the box and daring us to throw," Gettle said. "It was kind of tough early on (to run), but we busted a big pass play on them in a formation that they weren't really ready for and once we did that I just put it on the (offensive) line. We were able to grind it out and get four or five yards at a crack. I'm just real proud because the kids worked extremely hard to get this victory and that's all that matters."
Both teams traded fumbles late in the fourth quarter, but the Knights were able to run out the clock on the final drive, converting a pair of first downs.
The win improves the Knights to 2-3 overall, 2-0 WIC with a trip to Vincennes Lincoln on Friday evening.
OV -- Larry Shaffer 96-yard run (Landon DeFord kick), 7:42
OV -- Shaffer 90-yard interception return (kick failed), 3:31
Nv -- Jesse Miller one-yard run (Trey Boor kick), 3:53
OV -- Shaffer 72-yard run (run failed), 2:57
Nv -- Tucker Stewart 73-yard pass to Tyler Rector (Boor kick)
Nv -- Miller one-yard run (pass failed), 8:44
Rushing -- Nv (Miller 36-169 2 TD, Stewart 11-10, Hyde 2-4). OV (Ranard 3-10, Shaffer 4-163 2 TD, Bradley 9-14, Arthur 3-10).
Passing -- Nv (Stewart 8-17 174 yards, 1 TD, 2 Int.), OV (Ranard 1-6 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int., Shaffer 0-1 0 yards).
Receiving -- Nv (Girton 1-11, Ragan 1-31, Rector 3-108 TD, Kimball 3-24). OV (Shaffer 1-0).