Big plays by Owen Valley High School’s football team seemed destined to doom Northview in Friday’s Western Indiana Conference clash. The Patriots had touchdowns of 96, 90 and 72 yards.
But the Knights mastered the little plays and a lot more of them. In the end, that proved to be the difference in a come-from-behind 20-19 victory against the Patriots, who had been unbeaten in the WIC.
Bullish running back Jesse Miller and a dominant line were what got Northview over the top. Miller rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns via a whopping 39 carries.
They weren’t easy yards either. Miller was punished as he often absorbed multiple blows per rush. But the 6-foot, 225-pound senior kept rumbling along.
“I wanted it super bad. It’s all about yards after contact and how bad you want it. I just kept my feet moving and it showed on the field,” Miller said.
For a time, it appeared Northview would be haunted by Owen Valley running back/defensive back Larry Shaffer, a former student at Northview.
It didn’t take Shaffer long to make his presence known to his former school. On Owen Valley’s second play from scrimmage, Shaffer ran 96 yards for a touchdown.
Northview worked its way downfield in response, but Shaffer was the man again, as he picked off Tucker Stewart deep in Owen Valley territory and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
Owen Valley barely had possession of the ball, but the Patriots owned a 13-0 advantage. Both teams’ defenses hold the fort for the remainder of the half and Owen Valley’s lead was the same at halftime.
Northview had the ball to start the second half and the Knights established dominance in the trenches. An epic 17-play, 65-yard drive was the result with Miller inflicting — and absorbing — most of the damage.
The 17th play — fourth-and-goal from the Owen Valley 1-yard line — characterized Miller’s hard-nosed determination. Miller was hit twice in the backfield, but bounced off tacklers and used his strength to roll into the end zone to make it 13-7.
“Everyone was counting on me. I’m the leader and I can’t let them down. All of that was running through my mind as I kept my feet moving. I wanted it so bad and it happened,” Miller said.
The drive boosted Northview’s confidence and opened the game up, but not before Shaffer made his presence felt again. Two plays after Miller’s TD, Shaffer took a pitch on the left side and broke free for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 19-7.
Undaunted, Northview scored on its first drive in response. Stewart found Tyler Rector wide open over the middle for a 73-yard TD connection to make it 19-14.
The decisive drive came early in the fourth quarter. Miller had carries of 8, 14, 5 and 7 yards — and Northview converted a fourth down — to set up a 1-yard Miller touchdown run with 8:44 left in the game.
Northview’s defense did the rest. Owen Valley (3-2, 3-1) managed just one first down — via penalty — for the remainder of the contest.
Northview (2-3) improved to 2-1 in the WIC, but Northview coach George Gettle was just as happy with what this win could do for the young Knights’ confidence.
“From a confidence standpoint, this is a really big thing. It makes next week so much easier,” Gettle said.
Northview plays next Friday at Vincennes Lincoln.
Owen Valley 19
Northview 0 0 14 6 — 20
Owen Valley 13 0 6 0 — 19
OV — Larry Shaffer 96 run (Landon DeFord kick), 7:42 1Q.
OV — Shaffer 90 interception return (kick failed), 3:31 1Q.
N — Jesse Miller 1 run (Trey Boor kick), 3:53 3Q.
OV — Shaffer 72 run (run failed), 3:31 3Q.
N — Tyler Rector 73 pass from Tucker Stewart (Boor kick), 2:38 3Q.
N — Miller 1 run (pass failed), 8:44 4Q.
First downs 13 4
Rush.-Yds. 52-198 19-201
Rec. Yds. 176 1
C/A/I 8-17-2 1-8-0
Pen. Yds. 7-80 6-55
Fum-Lost 2-1 2-2
Punts/Avg. 2-30 4-33
Rushing — Northview, Miller 39-181, Stewart 11-13, Zach Hyde 2-4. Owen Valley, Shaffer 4-162, Drew Bradley 9-19, Caleb Arthur 3-11, Gunnar Ranard 3-9.
Passing — Northview, Stewart 8-17-2 176. Owen Valley, Ranard 1-7-0 1, Shaffer 0-1-0 0.
Receiving — Northview, Rector 3-109, Daniel Kimball 3-24, Hunter Ragan 1-31, Ben Girton 1-12. Owen Valley, Shaffer 1-1.
Next — Next Friday, Northview (2-3, 2-1) plays at Vincennes Lincoln and Owen Valley (3-2, 3-1) plays at Sullivan.