CLAYTON — Senior running back Avery Miliner had a night to remember by rushing for 264 yards and five touchdowns to lead Northmont to a 35-14 victory Friday night over division rival Fairmont.
“Miliner did a great job. He is a very talented running back,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “The offensive line really came together. We put a couple of plays in special for Fairmont to take advantage of a couple of things we saw on film, but really the credit goes to the offensive line. They really did a good job up front tonight.”
Oddly enough linebacker Jimi Saul started the game at running back carrying the ball four times for 25 yards.
After that, Miliner took over and was a force to be reckoned with. His determination to gain yardage led to three fumbles, but were minor mistakes compared to his stellar effort that resulted in a big win for the Thunderbolts.
It took awhile for Northmont to get its offense sorted out. The Thunderbolts scored their first touchdown of the night with 8:58 remaining in the first half, a six yard run by Miliner. That score was set up by a 28 yard run by Jabari Perkins on a first down reverse to set up a first and goal at the Firebirds’ six yard line.
Fairmont answered with a 16 play, 79 yard drive capped by an 18 yard touchdown pass by Josh Baker to Corde’ Kyles to tie the game 7-7 with 1:37 remaining in the first half. The half ended in a 7-7 deadlock.
Northmont dodged a bullet to open the second half when Camron Kirkpatrick forced a fumble that the Firebirds recovered at the Thunderbolts’ 39. Fairmont couldn’t put the ball into the end zone and a 30 yard field goal attempt came up short.
On the next drive Northmont ran into trouble again. Miliner broke loose for a 36 yard run to the Fairmont 44. From there a Brenden Reck pass was right on the money, but got bobbled and Kirkpatrick came up with the interception at the three yard line.
Fairmont couldn’t sustain a drive and had to punt. Northmont took over at the 50 and three plays later Miliner romped 45 yards for a touchdown. Nick Winchester added his second extra-point of the night to put Northmont up 14-7.
The Thunderbolts’ defense came up big on Fairmont’s next possession. Josh Baker fired a pass to a receiver who tipped the ball into the air and Cameron Rucker picked off the tipped pass at Fairmont’s 28. Miliner scored on a 17 yard run with 1:34 left in third quarter and the rout was on. Winchester’s point after boosted Northmont’s lead to 21-7.
Fairmont wouldn’t go away. On second down and seven Maurice Adika broke off a 60 yard run to give Fairmont a first down at Northmont’s three yard line. Adika scored on the next play and T.J. McManus tacked on the point after to cut the Thunderbolts’ lead to 21-14 with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
On their next possession the Thunderbolts had a big touchdown wiped out by a penalty. Reck completed a swing pass to Jabari Perkins and Perkins went 75 yards for the score, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty. Northmont stayed focused and Miliner eventually scored on a 22 yard run to boost the Thunderbolts’ lead to 28-14 with 9:35 remaining.
Northmont capped the scoring with an eight play, 67 yard drive that featured a 32 yard run by Miliner. Miliner capped the drive with a two yard run to make the final tally, 35-14 in favor of Northmont.
Broering was so caught up in the game he didn’t realize Miliner had scored all five touchdowns.
“I was told at the end of the game that he scored all five touchdowns, but really I had no idea,” Broering said. “When you rip off those big runs like that, I’ve been telling the kids for the last three or four years that the only ways those runs happen is if the wide outs block. If you watch the film, Jewsikow and Zirkle and those guys were putting their guys on the ground, so that’s where you get those big runs. It was a total team effort on offense to get Miliner those yards and touchdowns. It was a great team effort.”
Maurice Adika ended up with 103 yards on 11 caries for Fairmont and proved to be a tough runner to bring down.
“He’s a tough kid,” Broering said. “Fairmont is a good team. They have some good players. Our defense made some good adjustments at halftime. Fairmont ran a play that we had seen earlier in the year but not them do a lot, so at halftime we had to get that squared up. As always, our defensive staff did a great job making needed adjustments.”
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Dominic Wilson intercepts Fairmont quarterback Josh Baker on a tipped pass to give Northmont possession at the Firebirds’ 28 yard line.
Linebacker Jimi Saul brings down Fairmont running back Jake Perkins.
Avery Miliner eludes a Fairmont tackler on his way to a big gain. Miliner ended the night with 264 yards and five touchdowns.
Northmont quarterback Brenden Reck fires a pass over the outstretched hand of Fairmont linebacker Marc Donovan.
Jimi Saul picks up yardage doubling as a running back on Northmont’s opening drive.
The football team celebrates with the Northmont Marching Band following the 35-14 victory over Fairmont.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind