By Ron Nunnari
CLAYTON — In a seesaw battle during a ‘Thursday Night Lights’ game at Northmont, the Miamisburg Vikings scored the winning touchdown on an eight yard pass from Preston Barr to Keith Henry with 11.7 seconds left to secure a 36-33 victory.
The game featured 802 yards in total offense; 431 by Northmont and 371 by Miamisburg.
Both teams entered the contest with identical records of 3-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play. The Vikings bounced back from consecutive losses to Centerville, 27-14, and Wayne, 32-24.
After starting the season 3-0, the loss to Miamisburg was Northmont’s third straight.
The Thunderbolts received the opening kickoff, an onside kick that Northmont covered at its 46. Facing a fourth down and six at the Vikings 30, Deuce Cortner (21-33, 263 yards, 3 TDs, 1 interception) fired a pass to Brady Lupton (8 receptions, 122 yards, 1 TD) for a first and goal at the four.
Cortner then tossed a six yard pass to Da’lin Wilkens (5 receptions, 82 yards, 2 TDs) in the left side of the end zone for a touchdown. The point after kick was wide as Northmont took a 6-0 lead at 8:50 in the opening quarter.
Miamisburg answered with a 65 yard drive capped by a 43 yard touchdown pass from Preston Barr (14-21, 280 yards, 4 TDs, 0 interceptions) to Connor Smith (4 receptions, 97 yards, 2 TDs). Ethan Warner’s kick gave the Vikings a 7-6 lead.
Northmont responded with a 60 yard drive with Lupton scoring on a 10 yard pass from Cortner. A two point conversion failed but the Thunderbolts led, 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts Miamisburg took over at Northmont’s 48 and seven plays later scored on a six yard sweep around right end by Smith. Barr scored the two point conversion on a quarterback keeper to give the Vikings a 15-12 lead with 8:23 left in the first half.
Cortner scored on a five yard quarterback keeper with 7:46 left in the half to cap a 54 yard drive. Jon Warren’s kick put Northmont back on top 19-15, a score that stood at halftime.
The Vikings wasted no time retaking the lead. After receiving the second half kickoff and facing third and nine at their own 31, Barr found Hunter Derr wide open in the middle of the field to pick up a first down at Northmont’s 35.
On the next play Barr hit Smith with a 35 TD pass. Tristen Linville’s kick was good to put Miamisburg back on top 22-19 at 9:59 in the third period.
Northmont’s running game came to life on its next possession. Calilien Grant ran for gains of 19, 14 and five yards to give the T’bolts a first and goal at the five. From there Cortner scampered in for a TD at the 8:58 mark. Warren’s kick gave Northmont a 26-22 advantage.
“They were giving us a light box, kind of like what Fairmont did. The difference was we could actually block Miamisburg a little bit so Calilien ran really good and really hard,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering.
Djuan Sales sacked Barr to force a Miamisburg punt but the Vikings got the ball back when Mekai McDougald intercepted a Cortner pass intended for Wilkins along the left sideline at the 31 yard line.
Three plays later Jaden Bruton got behind two Northmont defensive backs. All three players leaped for Barr’s pass and the defensive backs collided as Bruton snared the ball and raced 20 yards into the end zone for a 69 yard TD. Linville’s kick was true as the Vikings took a 29-26 lead with 3:01 left in the quarter.
Wilkins scored on a 25 yard pass from Cortner to open the fourth quarter and Warren’s kick put Northmont up 33-29 with 11:59 remaining in the game.
Neither team could move the ball on its next possessions. Miamisburg got the ball back with 1:40 remaining at Northmont’s 48. On second down Barr got chased out of the pocket to the right, then cut back to the left sideline for an 18 yard gain.
After picking up a first down at the Thunderbolts 18 Barr completed a pass to Bryce Vaughn at the 15. On third and seven Barr was pressured out of the pocket and ran to the right sideline and again escaped a sack by racing back to the left sideline to pick up a first and goal at the eight yard line with 15 seconds left.
On the next play Barr hit Keith Henry over the middle with an eight yard pass for the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left, and that was the ballgame.
“Preston is probably the best quarterback in the league besides Deuce,” Broering added. “I told the kids all week how fast he was and how you had to keep him in the pocket and they didn’t believe me. That’s the bottom line.
“When I tell them stuff like Preston is really fast. You’ve got to contain Preston. He is really good. He is like Deuce, and they are like, ‘OK coach.’ So that’s what happens when they don’t listen. He is a legitimate 4.5 kid (4.5 seconds in the 40 yard dash). He has been electronically timed at that, and I tried to tell the kids all week how good he was and they didn’t believe me.”
Northmont travels to Wayne this Friday night to face the Warriors who are 5-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
Reach Ron Nunnari by email: [email protected].