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East Noble slips past Vikings late

TOP LEFT: Reid Johnson fires a pass during Huntington North’s 36–20 loss to East Noble on Friday. Johnson threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns. TOP RIGHT: Lawson Shearer led the Vikings in yardage with 97 yards, all on the ground. BOTTOM: The Vikings shake hands with East Noble following Friday’s game.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

Huntington North’s gridiron gladiators put up a valiant fight at East Noble on Friday night, but the Knights pulled away late for a 36–20 Northeast 8 Conference (NE8) victory to avoid an upset.

The loss dropped the Vikings’ record to 1–2 and started their NE8 record at 0–1. East Noble, who is ranked No. 8 among 4A schools in the AP poll, improved to 3–0 on the campaign with a 1–0 mark in NE8 action.

Things looked good for the Knights out of the gate, as quarterback Bailey Parker finished off a 13 play, 80 yard drive with a 19 yard touchdown run to quickly put East Noble ahead 7–0 with 7:48 to play in the first quarter.

Huntington North failed to score on their first possession, punting the ball away after 12 plays in the drive. But, on the Knights’ first play of the ensuing possession, Justin Marcellus fumbled the ball, giving the Vikings prime field position to get on the scoreboard.

Eight plays later, senior Deven Newcomb rumbled into the end zone to get Huntington North on the board, and following an extra point by senior kicker Aidan Hosler, the game was knotted up at 7–7 with 1:02 left in the first quarter.

Newcomb then fully swung the momentum in the Vikes’ favor just a minute later, picking off Parker to get Huntington North the ball back as time expired in the opening frame.

The second quarter started uneventfully, as the teams exchanged the first three drives on turnovers on downs. However, on East Noble’s second possession of the period, it looked as though the Knights would take the lead on a Parker touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone. Junior Lawson Shearer had other plans, though, making a highlight reel interception to rob East Noble of the score and keep the game tied with 6:13 to go in the frame.

The Vikings put together a lengthy drive, but had to settle for a field goal attempt. However, Hosler’s 41 yard bid was unsuccessful, leaving the contest at 7–7 with 1:15 in the half.

The Knights could not capitalize on the ensuing possession, sending the game to halftime with the scoreboard reading 7–7.

After a Viking four and out to start the third quarter, East Noble retook the lead on a 24 yard field goal from Joe Painter for a 10–7 Knights edge with 7:16 left in the period.

Huntington North started their next drive at their own 20 yard line and marched the ball 80 yards on 11 plays to take a 14–10 lead thanks to a seven yard reception by sophomore Cam McCarver from junior quarterback Reid Johnson for the Vikings’ first advantage of the night with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter.

However, East Noble quickly answered back. After a long kickoff return saved by a diving tackle by Hosler, the Knights needed just two plays to find the end zone, as Parker connected with Rowan Zolman for a 32 yard touchdown to regain the lead at 17–14 just 53 seconds later.

East Noble struck again early in the fourth quarter to extend their advantage, as Jacob VanGorder took his lone carry of the game six yards for a Knight touchdown and a 23–14 lead with 8:46 remaining in the contest.

The Vikings refused to go down quietly, though, as Newcomb brought the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the East Noble 29 yard line. Two plays later, Johnson again connected with McCarver for a touchdown, this time a 24 yard strike. Hosler’s extra point was blocked, but the scoreboard showed a 23–20 edge for the Knights with 8:11 to play.

East Noble quickly put any doubt to rest shortly thereafter, as Parker found Brett Christian wide open in the middle of the field for a 54 yard touchdown before Zolman stripped McCarver four plays later and took it to the house for another score, pushing the game out of reach at 36–20 in favor of the Knights with 4:12 remaining in the contest.

Huntington North could not do anything with their last ditch drive, watching what appeared to be a winnable game slip through their hands in the final minutes, as East Noble walked away with the 36–20 decision.

“The difference is, when you’re playing a quality state ranked opponent like we were playing tonight on their field, we can’t have the mistakes that we made,” said head coach Bob Prescott. “We’re right there. We score and it’s 23–20 and we’re kicking the extra point thinking, ‘Now let’s get it within two, find a way to get the ball back and then maybe get a field goal to win at the end,’ and then we just had some breakdowns. It’s no one individual. It’s just part of the growth process. But man, we came and competed tonight and that’s all we ask our kids to do.”

Huntington North’s offense accumulated 303 yards, with 219 coming on the ground. Shearer accounted for 97 of those 219 rushing yards, including a team leading 40 yard run in the third quarter. The Vikes’ top three rushers were rounded out by 87 yards from sophomore Garret Johnson and 40 yards and a touchdown from Newcomb.

Reid Johnson threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were reeled in by McCarver, who finished the game with 62 receiving yards. Senior Cameron Foust completed Huntington North’s double digit yard production with one catch for 19 yards.

East Noble racked up 436 yards of offense, led by 222 passing yards from Parker and 139 rushing yards from Marcellus.

After Huntington North limited the Knights to just seven points in the first half, East Noble’s offensive explosion down the stretch proved too much for the Vikings to handle.

Prescott noted after the game the Vikings’ game plan was to hold Parker’s run game at bay and take away Gage Ernsberger as a receiving threat. Parker ran for just 66 yards and Ernsberger was shut down completely, not making a catch the whole night. However, despite the loss, Prescott sees his team making progress.

“We want to put a product on the field that our parents, our fans, our community will be very proud of the way we play and our kids are doing that,” Prescott said. “Now, we gotta find a way to step to the next level and finish it off and get a win against a really quality opponent. (I am) just so proud of our guys (and) the way they played tonight.”

Huntington North will return to the field next Friday, hosting Columbia City in another NE8 battle. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Kriegbaum Field.

EAST NOBLE 36, HUNTINGTON NORTH 20

Knights’ 7’ 0’ 10’ 19’ 36

Vikings’ 7’ 0’ 7’ 6’ 20

First quarter

EN — Parker 19 yard rush, Painter kick good 7:48

HN — Newcomb 1 yard rush, Hosler kick good 1:02

Third quarter

EN — Painter 24 yard field goal 7:16

HN — McCarver 7 yard reception, Hosler kick good 3:23

EN — Zolman 32 yard reception, Painter kick good 2:30

Fourth quarter

EN — VanGorder 6 yard rush, Painter kick blocked 8:46

HN — McCarver 24 yard reception, Hosler kick blocked 8:11

EN — Christian 54 yard reception, Painter kick good 5:46

EN — Zolman 33 yard fumble return, Painter kick no good 4:12

Statistics

Huntington North

Rushing (attempts–total yards)

Lawson Shearer — 20–97

Garret Johnson — 24–87

Deven Newcomb — 12–40 (one touchdown)

Jackson Holzinger — 3–7

Alexander Gallegos — 1–0

Reid Johnson — 5–(-12) (one fumble)

Total — 65–219 (one touchdown, one fumble)

Passing (completions–attempts–total yards)

Reid Johnson — 8–13–84 (two touchdowns)

Receiving (receptions–total yards)

Cam McCarver — 6–62 (two touchdowns, one fumble)

Cameron Foust — 1–19

Deven Newcomb — 1–3

Total yards — 303

East Noble

Rushing (attempts–total yards)

Justin Marcellus — 19–139 (one fumble)

Bailey Parker — 13–66 (one touchdown)

Jacob VanGorder — 1–6 (one touchdown)

Nick Munson — 2–3

Total — 35–214 (two touchdowns, one fumble)

Passing (completions–attempts–total yards)

Bailey Parker — 10–20–222 (two touchdowns, two interceptions)

Receiving (receptions–total yards)

Brett Christian — 3–95 (one touchdown)

Nick Munson — 6–85

Rowan Zolman — 1–32 (one touchdown)

Total yards — 436