After failing to score points on four possessions inside the Independence 10-yard-line, the Northland High School football team came through on its final opportunity Aug. 29 in the season's first game between central Ohio teams this season.
The Vikings’ Corbin Bannister recovered a fumble at the 76ers' 26-yard-line with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left, and two plays later, Nateshawn Hardgrove scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to give his team a 20-18 win.
“This was a great game,” Northland coach Kevin Tooson said. “Kudos to our defense. We bent, but didn’t break.”
Independence scored on the final play of the first half when quarterback Anthony Bange hit Iman Lowery on a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-6.
Northland quarterback Nicholas Fischer ran for 63 yards on the first play of the third quarter to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Malcolm Marshall, and Jhustus Cornley ran in the two-point conversion to give the Vikings a 14-12 lead.
Two plays later, the 76ers’ Ronnie Kuipers ran for a 67-yard touchdown run to make it 18-14.
Northland was stopped short of a score on its next possession at the Independence 1-yard-line and reached the 2 on a fourth-quarter possession, but failed to score.
Independence took over at its own 9 with 3:49 left but fumbled it away.
Cornley ran 19 yards to the Independence 7 to set up Hardgrove’s game-winning score.
“Coach told us not to give up, never quit and never let our heads down,” said Cornley, who also had a fumble recovery.
Fischer rushed for 96 yards while splitting time at quarterback with Glenn Smith III. Marshall added 54 yards rushing.
Independence DeAntae’ Townsend rushed for 139 yards on 18 carries in the first half but didn’t return because of an ankle injury.
Kuipers rushed for 128 yards, with 125 coming in the second half.
“There were a number of plays in that game that could have made the difference,” 76ers coach Maurice Douglas said. “It’s disappointing. We felt like we should have played better. You can’t put the ball on the ground like that.”
I – Lowery 5 run (run failed)
N—Hardgrove 3 run (pass failed)
I—Lowery 15 pass from Bange (run failed)
N—Marshall 2 run (Cornley run)
I—Kuipers 67 run (run failed)
N—Hardgrove 7 run (pass failed)