It isn’t often that a team can give up three turnovers in a football game and still win by three possessions, but that is exactly what Northview did in its 28-7 victory over host Sullivan Friday night, one that opened Western Indiana Conference play for both teams.
With some uncertainties on the offense heading into the game, Northview head coach Mark Raetz looked to the defense to set the tone and capture the teams first win of the season.
“We have had some adversity here early in the season but we have continued to get better each week,” Raetz said. “Our defense has been outstanding all season and once the offense got the ball rolling they all really developed some confidence tonight.”
Both offenses were sloppy in execution to start the game, with Northview quarterback Keegan Garrison surrendering an interception on the Knights' opening drive to junior Grant Bell. Sullivan was unable to make anything happen out of the turnover though, as quarterback Karter Vernelson tossed an interception of his own to Northview senior Zack Brown.
Northview (1-2) finally managed to get some traction in their closing drive of the first quarter, gashing the Golden Arrows' defense time after time. The Knights capped the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run from junior Korbin Allen. Allen finished the game with a team-high 26 carries for 123 yards.
A quick three-and-out from Sullivan left Northview with the ball again, this time electing to strike from the air. Garrison dropped back, heaving a deep pass downfield to wide-open receiver junior Brylar Metz, who then trotted into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown to put the Knights up 14-0.
After a fumbled handoff from the Sullivan offense gave the ball back to Northview, Garrison threw another interception into the arms of sophomore William Newby at the Sullivan 10-yard line. The small burst of momentum that the Golden Arrows had captured quickly vanished though, after a lateral went unclaimed and was picked up by Knight senior Jonathan Bradford, who rumbled four yards into the end zone to put extend the visitor’s lead to 21-0.
On the ensuing possession, Karter Vernelson fell under heavy pressure and threw his third interception of the evening, this time being picked off by sophomore Braxton Sampson who gained 40 yards on the return before being tackled.
Sullivan (1-2) managed to regain control of the ball after junior Karver Queen intercepted a deep pass from Garrison with 1:34 left before halftime. Sullivan attempted to carve some points onto the scoreboard before the break, but fell short after a knee-injury to Karter Vernelson resulted in a turnover-on-downs.
After the halftime break, Northview marched down the field behind the legs of Allen and pushed their lead to 28-0 with a one-yard touchdown run from Garrison.
Northview continued to control the pace of the game with its defense, raking in the group’s fourth interception of the game and the second for Sampson with 4:33 left in the third quarter. The interception came off of the arm of junior Tristan Drake.
Sullivan head coach Blaine Powell knows that there is a lot to improve for the Golden Arrows as they head further into the conference schedule.
“We have to stop digging holes and we need to attack offensively,” Powell said. “We weren’t able to capitalize tonight and the schedule isn’t going to get any easier, so we need to respond.”
There was no quit from the Sullivan offense though, who made its second quarterback change of the game to senior Kyle Vernelson. Kyle Vernelson took charge of the offensive unit, captaining a fourth quarter drive that resulted in a 14-yard scrambling touchdown by the senior. The score cut into the Knights lead to 28-7 and a blocked Northview punt on the next series sparked several more signs of life into the Sullivan sideline. Despite the brief surge, Northview held on for the conference-opening victory.
Northview hosts West Vigo next Friday. Sullivan plays at North Putnam.
Nv – Korbin Allen 1 run (Steven Thomas kick) 1:11 1Q
Nv – Brylar Metz 61 pass from Keegan Garrison (Thomas kick) 10:53 2Q
Nv – Jonathan Bradford 4 fumble recovery (Thomas kick) 7:47 2Q
Nv – Garrison 1 run (Thomas kick) 7:29 3Q
S – Kyle Vernelson 14 run (Giuseppe Leone kick) 10:57 4Q
Rushing – Northview: Allen 26-123, Garrison 10-7, Gordon 1-8, Metz 1-(-6). Sullivan: Skinner 9-16, Williams 2-5, Karter Vernelson 4-(-1), Bell 2-19, Kyle Vernelson 5-20, D. Williams 1-3, Shake 1-(-5).
Passing – Northview: Garrison 6-12-3 109. Sullivan: Karter Vernelson 6-16-2 81, Drake 2-6-1 23, Kyle Vernelson 7-7-0 45, Shake 0-2-0 0.
Receiving – Northview: Metz 2-67, Allen 1-(-2), Wright 1-7, Gordon 1-24, Minor 1-13. Sullivan: Kyle Vernelson 3-29, Shake 4-62, Bell 7-54, Queen 1-3.
Next – Northview (1-2) plays again on Friday night at 7 p.m. as they host West Vigo. Sullivan (1-2) plays the same night at 7 p.m. as they travel to North Putnam.