Elks edge Thunderbolts by one point


By Ron Nunnari

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CLAYTON — Northmont dominated Centerville in nearly all statistical categories Friday night but still ended up losing to the Elks by one point, 14-13.

Northmont amassed 414 total yards, 286 passing and 128 rushing, while the Elks had 205 yards, 106 rushing and 99 passing. Time of possession: Northmont 28:45; Centerville 19:15.

The Elks were five for 14 on third down, Northmont six for 12. Fourth down efficiency: Elks three for three, Thunderbolts 0-1. Northmont had seven penalties for 45 yards, the Elks two for 10.

The Elks took an early lead on a one yard run by running back Parker Johnson (17 carries, 87 yards). Leland Gantz added the point after to give Centerville a 7-0 lead at 8:14 in the first quarter.

Centerville turned to Johnson, 5-feet-7 inches, 200 pounds, whenever it needed to pick up a first down. He powered his way through tacklers to get the needed yardage when called upon.

Northmont drove 48 yards to the Elks’ 32 and on fourth down and three lined up to go for a first down. A false start penalty canceled that and the Thunderbolts opted to punt. The punt sailed into the end zone with Centerville taking over at its 20.

Centerville drove 48 yards to the Thunderbolts’ 32, but the drive was wiped out when Da’lin Wilkins intercepted a pass by Drake Wells at the six yard line.

The half ended with the Elks holding a one touchdown advantage.

The Thunderbolts stormed back with a pair of third quarter touchdown. Calilien Grant scored on a six yard run at 7:40 and Jon Warren’s kick tied the score 7-7.

Wilkins scored on an 82 pass from Deuce Cortner with 5:11 left in the third quarter, but the point after kick was wide as Northmont took a 13-7 lead.

After an exchange of punts, the Elks started their game winning drive at their 44 yard line. Runs by Johnson and Daniel Kamara and a pass to Johnson moved the ball to Northmont’s 25.

On third and seven Wells found tight end Bryce Cowgill wide open over the middle for a 25 yard touchdown with 11:08 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gantz tacked on the point after for a 14-13 lead the Elks would not relinquish.

It wasn’t that Northmont didn’t have its chances. After the kickoff went into the end zone the Thunderbolts came up with a big play.

On first down Cortner fired a deep pass to Wilkins for 42 yards and a first down at the Elks’ 38. Unfortunately, Wilkins was penalized for taunting after the play, and the 15 yard penalty moved the ball back to Northmont’s 48.

On third and nine Cortner kept the ball and rambled for a first down at Centerville’s 38. On fourth down and two Cortner was sacked and the Elks took over at their own 38.

After another exchange of punts, the Elks took possession with 3:17 remaining at their 22 and iced the game by driving to their 47 with Johnson picking up a first down with 1:38 left. That enabled Centerville to run out the clock by taking a knee on the next two snaps.

“Johnson is a good football player. He is tough,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering. “He reminds me of our Devin Kennerly who graduated a few years ago.”

Despite Cortner passing for close to 300 yards, it wasn’t enough to overcome the penalties the Thunderbolts sustained in key situations.

“Deuce played great and he got forced into duty on defense playing cornerback the entire game,” Broering added. “He was a true warrior tonight. He was special out there. He played great.”

Reach Ron Nunnari by email: [email protected].

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