Defense overpowering in playoff victory #2
By Brett Barnes
OHSAA playoff football is all about “survive and advance.” A win allows another game. A loss and the season ends.Last week, Milton-Union traveled to Westfall and completely dismantled the#2 seeded Mustangs 46-14. They earned the right to play again: a different team, a different venue… but the same result.
In almost a carbon copy of last week’s game, the Milton-Union defense physically dominated from the outset in an almost embarrassingly easy 51-8 victory over the #3 seeded Norwood Indians. Milton’s defense hurried, harassed, and hammered quarterback Andrew Conover and the Norwood spread offense play after play after play forcing Norwood to punt six times and to commit two turnovers, while holding the Indians to just 143 total yards on the evening.
For the second week in a row an overconfident opponent won the coin toss, and elected to receive the football, exuding confidence that their offense would score and would score often. Nick Fields’ kickoff landed out of bounds, and Norwood started at the 35-yd line. Ironically, this would be the only time in the first quarter Norwood would get the ball this far up the field. The Indians managed -7 yards on the drive, and M-U had its first possession at the 48 yard line.
A methodical drive full of power runs and sweeps ended at the 7 after offsetting unsportsmanlike penalty fouls (a theme throughout the evening). Nick Fields nailed the 25 yard field goal, and the Bulldogs led 3-0.
Norwood’s second possession ended much like its first with another three and out, and the Bulldogs had possession at the Norwood 45-yard line. This time it took just nine seconds for a Bulldog touchdown when David Karns took a toss sweep and split defenders for a 45-yard score. The Fields’ extra point made the score 10-0 with 6:23 remaining in the quarter.
Norwood’s third possession also ended after three plays, and M-U had the ball again this time at the 44-yard line. An eight play, smash-mouth drive ended when Tyler Brown eluded a defender in the backfield and sprinted to the end zone. 17-0 Bulldogs with 17.6 second to go in the first quarter.
At this point in the game, Norwood had -5 yards total offense.
The second quarter was more of the same, and the Norwood drive ended on fourth down when Alex King smelled out a screen pass and intercepted the football returning it to the Indians’ 46-yard line.
What Alex King starts, Alex King finishes. On third and fourteen from the 14-yard line, quarterback London Cowan found King over the middle for a touchdown, and after the Field’s point after, it was all M-U 24-0.
Norwood was able to get a few first downs on its next drive, but the drive stalled once again, and the Indians had to punt again, this time pinning the Bulldogs on the 6-yard line with 5:27 left in the second quarter.
The drive that ensued epitomized the night for both teams. M-U began a 94-yard drive with power run after power run. With under a minute left, and just one timeout, the Bulldogs had driven from their own 6-yard line to first and goal at the Indians’ 9-yard line. Joe Thoele ran for 5 yards to the four, and the Bulldogs decided to use their timeout. The next play fell incomplete. On third down, Cowan hit David Karns, but he was dropped at the six with the clock under ten seconds and running. Cowan inexplicably spiked the ball on 4th down, seemingly ending the drive, but a penalty flag had been thrown with the officials calling a false start penalty on the Bulldogs nullifying the play. It remained 4th down with 1.4 seconds on the clock, and the Bulldogs had another chance even after the error of spiking the ball on fourth down.
Many in the M-U and Norwood crowds thought that the Bulldogs were given a 5th down. This included the Norwood coaching staff, which lost all composure. Another false start penalty pushed the Bulldogs back to the 16-yard line, but on fourth and 16, Cowan hit Thoele on a beautiful wheel route for the touchdown that sealed it with 0:00 remaining on the clock, 31-0 at the half.
Norwood came out and struck first in the third quarter on a 64-yard touchdown strike. The two point conversion was good, and the score stood 31-8. The rest of the third quarter went scoreless, but M-U had the ball driving from the 48-yard line to start the 4th. This drive ended with another Tyler Brown (118 yards) touchdown. 38-8.
Norwood fumbled the ensuing kickoff with the Dogs recovering on the Indian 25-yd line. Three plays later, Thoele struck again this time from 19-yards away. The extra point was blocked, but it was all Bulldogs 44-8.
That is when the game took an ugly turn for the worse for Norwood. Not only were they being beaten during play, but they began to lose any semblance of composure after plays. A personal foul penalty on the Indian offense ended a drive, and then three more personal foul penalties against their defense moved the football 45 yards for Milton (like they needed any help). Brad Stine ended the evening’s scoring with a 7-yd touchdown run, and it was finally over 51-8 Milton-Union.
Milton-Union racked up 466 yards total offense to just 143 for Norwood.
Survive and advance: Up next is undefeated Clinton-Massie, the number one seed, for the Region 16 Division IV Title. Game time next Friday night, November 16 is 7:30 at a site to be determined.