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Vikings snag Homecoming win

INTERCEPTION: Senior defensive back Brock Eltzroth picked off Norwell twice in Huntington North’s 17–7 victory on Friday.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington North football team earned a 17–7 Homecoming victory over Norwell in a Northeast 8 Conference (NE8) matchup on Friday. The victory improved the Vikings’ season record to 3–5, including a 2–4 NE8 mark.

Senior lineman Damon Kaylor returned to the field after a two-week absence. Kaylor helped the Vikings re-establish their running game after a rough two weeks on the ground for Huntington North. The Vikings generated 74 total rushing yards against the Knights, a drastic improvement over last week’s 16 against Leo.

Following uneventful opening drives for both the Vikings and Knights, Huntington North threatened to open the scoring toward the end of the first quarter. After starting on their own 15 yard line, the Vikings marched the ball all the way to Norwell’s three yard line. However, senior quarterback Brett Kaylor’s pass to junior wide receiver Deven Newcomb was fumbled with Norwell recovering the ball, ending Huntington North’s first red zone opportunity.

With Norwell having dodged a bullet, the Knights looked to generate momentum to close out the first quarter. Norwell nearly converted on a nice passing play, but senior defensive back Brock Eltzroth picked off the pass, returning the interception down to the Norwell two yard line.

On the ensuing play, senior running back Logan Hippensteel dashed into the end zone to give Huntington North a 7–0 lead with 57.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The majority of the second quarter was played in the middle of the field, with both teams failing to get to the red zone until Norwell reached the Viking 19 yard line late in the half. However, the Huntington North defense stood tall, shutting down Norwell’s 4th down red zone attempt for a turnover on downs.

“(Our defense executed the) fundamentals,” said head coach Rick Burnau. “Like I said last week, those are something we (would) get fixed. We challenged them all week, ‘Stop the talking, we’re about action here,’ and they showed up. They put us in position to win.”

Huntington North and Norwell headed to halftime with the Vikings holding a 7–0 lead.

The Knights received the kick-off the open up the second half, but promptly booted the ball following a four-and-out. Newcomb brought the return back to the Knights’ 34 yard line to begin the Vikings’ first drive of the half.

Huntington North took advantage of the short field, as Hippensteel carried the ball in for his second two-yard touchdown of the evening, giving the Vikings a 14–0 lead with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter.

“(Having Damon Kaylor back was) huge (for our run game),” Burnau said. “My offensive line coach reminded me sternly that we have him back.”

Feeling the pressure after falling behind by two possessions, Norwell strung together a seven-play, 80-yard drive ending in a 20-yard touchdown reception by Mason DeHoff, cutting Huntington North’s lead to 14–7 with 3:05 to play in the third quarter.

The Knights appeared to be quickly closing in on the Vikings when they picked off Brett Kaylor late in the third quarter, but the Huntington North defense again came up with a big stand and forced Norwell to another four-and-out, sending the game to the fourth quarter with the Vikings still holding a 14–7 lead.

The Vikings turned in an unsuccessful drive to open the fourth quarter. On the ensuing Norwell possession, Newcomb hauled in an interception to keep the Knights from closing the margin. With the free possession, Huntington North put together an 11-play drive, capped off by a 37-yard field goal by junior kicker Aidan Hosler, giving the Vikings a 17–7 lead with just 2:40 remaining in the contest.

Norwell hoped to get back in the game with a last-ditch, high-tempo drive, but Eltzroth reeled in his second interception of the night to seal the win for Huntington North.

“(I was) extremely happy with all the coaches (and) extremely happy with the kids and everybody just coming out and giving a gutsy performance,” Burnau said.

The Vikings return to the gridiron for their Senior Night game next week when they host New Haven in another NE8 matchup. A victory would improve Huntington North’s overall record to 4–5 with a 3–4 NE8 record.

Burnau feels the team is finally turning the corner and starting to play their best football as the playoffs approach.

“We’ve got another winnable game,” Burnau said. “The ball is starting to roll. We start getting hot here going into Sectionals, you never know. So another winnable one here on Senior Night, so (we have to) just keep going. We’re healthy obviously right now. (I am) very proud of them.

The Senior Night contest against the Bulldogs is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Kriegbaum Field.

VIKINGS 17, KNIGHTS 7

Vikings’ 7’ 0’ 7’ 3’ 17

Knights’ 0’ 0’ 7’ 0’ 7

First quarter

HN – Hippensteel 2-yard rush, kick good 0:57

Third quarter

HN – Hippensteel 2-yard rush, kick good 6:47

NW – DeHoff 20-yard reception, kick good 3:05

Fourth quarter

HN – Hosler 37-yard field goal 2:40

Team statistics

Rushing – Huntington North 29-74 (2 touchdowns), Norwell 26-91.

Passing yards – Huntington North 134 (1 interception), Norwell 186 (1 touchdown, 3 interceptions).

Total yards – Huntington North 276, Norwell 289.

Turnovers – Huntington North 2 (1 interception, 1 fumble), Norwell 4 (3 interceptions, 1 fumble)

Penalty yards – Huntington North 15, Norwell 5

Individual statistics

Rushing: Huntington North – Logan Hippensteel 22-79 (2 touchdowns), Brett Kaylor 5-(-10), Brock Eltzroth 2-5. Norwell – Eli Riley 10-19, Garrison Brege 1-5, Bo Morgan 1-0, Sam Walker 6-42, Max Ringger 8-25.

Passing: Huntington North – Kaylor 13-24-134 (1 interception). Norwell – Riley 13-26-186 (1 touchdown, 3 interceptions).

Receiving: Huntington North – Deven Newcomb 6-10-21 (1 fumble), Andrew Smekens 3-5-41, Corbin Quackenbush 2-3-26, Zach Hubartt 2-5-46. Norwell – Brege 4-6-47, Mason DeHoff 3-4-75 (1 touchdown), Caden Mann 1-3-6, Levi Leidig 5-7-58.