North Montgomery’s defense not only set up the offense for a couple scores, they put their own points on the board in a 26-0 win over Crawfordsville.
A pick-six in the second quarter and a strip-sack and fumble recovery in the third quarter in the end zone gave the Chargers their first 14 points.
After the defense held the Athenians on downs, it gave the North offense a short field to work with, and they put two rushing TDs on the board.
The win moves the Chargers to 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Sagamore Conference, while Crawfordsville drops to 0-6 and 0-4 in the league. The win give North a 33-21 lead in the series history dating back to 1971
“I’m happy for the kids,” Chargers coach Josh Thompson said. “It’s always good to get a rivalry win. Our offense played much better in the second half, and our defense responded really well after some issues last week. You can’t go wrong with two defensive touchdowns.”
The first defensive score came when Nick Norman picked off a Cville pass and ran 60 yards for the score.
The senior has been moved to lineman duties with injuries to teammates.
“Nick is unselfish, and showed great leadership,” Thompson said. “When we approached him about the change (he had been running the ball), he said ‘make the change Coach’ before I got to the end of the sentence.”
While Norman moved to the line, sophomore Austin Sulc saw his duties expand.
A defensive side of the ball guy the first three games, Sulc stayed in his linebacker spot and scored the second defensive TD for the Chargers, when Crawfordsville QB Kaiden Underwood was sacked and fumbled in the end zone late in the third quarter.
His second-half was also highlighted with 11 rushing attempts, totaling 104 yards, and scored the last touchdown of the night on a 24-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
“Sulc ran well, but all the guys ran well, especially in the second half,” Thompson said of the 223 rush yards, with 182 of them coming in the second half. “We struggled in the first half — Crawfordsville’s defensive line really played hard — so we made some adjustments, ran a few different formations and tried to fire the guys up a little.”
The result was that the Chargers had possession of the ball for nearly all the second half, over 19 of the total 24 minutes.
Gage Galloway added 60 rush yards to the total, and Ross Dyson had 46 rush yards and a TD.
Quarterback Drew Norman was 11-of-24 passing for 103 yards and was intercepted once.
The Athenians defense, in creating the turnovers and stopping the Chargers on downs a couple times, held their own, but the North defense allowed nothing offensively for the home squad, who loses to North for the 12th straight game.
“We created a couple of turnovers there and had a chance, we just weren’t able to capitalize and they did,” Crawfordsville coach Kurt Schlicher said. “It was a hard hitting game and you’ve got to make some big plays in a close game and they made them. We made a couple, we just weren’t able to convert them into points.”
It was tough for the Athenians to move the ball, as they finished with 75 yards passing with three quarterbacks, but were held to -12 yards rushing for the night. There were three interceptions thrown and the lost fumble.
“Our offense has struggled all season,” Schlicher said. “We are struggling to find an identity and right now we just don’t have one.”
The game featured red zone possessions and red zone turnovers early, followed by several three-and-outs for both teams. The Norman pick-six was the only score on the board ahead of halftime Homecoming festivities.
The second North TD came late in the third, and then it was North running the ball for the fourth.
“We’ve made improvements over the last week,” Thompson said when asked about his team getting into a routine after losing two games to Covid.
“There are always things to work on,” he said. “We have tough conference game left and a tough sectional. It’s still good to win a rivalry game. I told the guys to enjoy it tonight and we get back to work tomorrow.”
The Chargers have Tri-West at home next Friday, while the Athenians travel to Lebanon.