CLAYTON — In a must win game Friday on homecoming night Northmont lost in double overtime 26-20 to Springboro.
The loss all but guarantees the Thunderbolts will end up a No. 16 seed in the playoffs, meaning they will face the No. 1 seed in the first round and an almost certain loss.
Northmont would need to pull off an upset win in its final game of the season against first place Springfield, which is currently 7-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
With the loss to Springboro the Thunderbolts fell to 2-5 overall and 0-5 in conference play while the Panthers improved to 4-3 and 3-2.
Xavier Vuong kicked a 28 yard field goal with 11 seconds left to tie the score 20-20 and send the game into overtime.
The Panthers won the toss in overtime but deferred. In overtime each team starts at the opponent’s 20 yard line.
Northmont failed to get a first down and on fourth and two lined up for a 29 field goal attempt. The snap from center was high and Springboro blocked the kick.
Issues on special teams proved costly for Northmont throughout the game.
The Panthers faced a fourth and 11 on their first overtime possession and opted to go for the touchdown. An illegal shift penalty moved the ball back five yards and a pass into the end zone fell incomplete.
In the second overtime period the teams shifted to the north end of the field. The Panthers again won the toss and this time opted to take the first shot at the end zone.
On the first play quarterback Evan Ruzzo kept the ball and ran 20 yards for the touchdown. The point after kick sailed wide left giving the Panthers a 26-20 advantage.
On Northmont’s first possession in the second OT a pass to the end zone sailed out of bounds left. On the next play a holding penalty made it second down and 23. Two more incomplete passes made it fourth and 23.
On the last play of the game Nathan Coy intercepted Deuce Cortner’s pass to seal the victory for Springboro.
Northmont led 10-7 at halftime. Bryant Callahan scored on a one yard run with 5:12 left in the first quarter. Voung’s kick put the Thunderbolts up 7-0.
Springboro tied the game on a three yard run by Ruzzo and the point after by Jaydon Williams. Vuong booted a 25 yard field goal with 7:57 left in the first half to put Northmont up 10-7 at the half.
The Thunderbolts forced Springboro to punt on the Panthers first possession of the second half. Northmont avoided a disaster after fumbling a fair catch. Nathan Schommer covered the fumble at the 21.
Unfortunately, on fourth down and seven Vuong faced a heavy rush and couldn’t get off the punt. Linebacker Tony Iorio tackled Vuong at the 17 and three plays later Ruzzo scored on a four yard run. The extra-point kick sailed wide left but the Panthers held a 13-10 advantage with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
“We can’t get out of our own way,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering. “When you play like that you don’t deserve to win. You don’t deserve to win when you do that kind of stuff. Last week we couldn’t cover the punt. Tonight we couldn’t protect the punt. If you can’t do those things you are never going to win.”
Northmont regained the lead early in the fourth quarter when Cortner threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to T.J. Gregory with 10:09 left. Vuong’s kick put the Thunderbolts up 17-13.
Springboro responded with an eight play drive with Ruzzo scoring on a 36 yard run with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter. Williams’ kick was true and the Panthers took a 20-17 lead. Vuong’s 27 yard field goal with 11 seconds left sent the game into overtime.
Broering railed about his team’s inability to learn from the time spent on focusing on special teams play in practice all week.
“We worked on special teams every day every practice over and over again. We never stopped working on it and more this week than ever because of what happened last week, but it didn’t matter,” Broering added. “We didn’t execute and in overtime we didn’t execute. We really didn’t execute the field goals. We got lucky on the two we managed to score to get it to overtime because every snap was bad. When you can’t snap the ball on an extra-point or field goal and you can’t punt, you’re not going to win.”
First downs: Springboro 16, Northmont 18. Total yards: Springboro 279, Northmont 346. Pass completions: Springboro nine, Northmont 11. Pass attempts: Springboro 22, Northmont 27. Passing yards: Springboro 52, Northmont 131. Passing average: Springboro 2.4, Northmont 4.9. Rushing attempts: Springboro 40, Northmont 51. Rushing yards: Springboro 227, Northmont 215. Rushing average: Springboro 5.7, Northmont 4.2. Third down efficiency: Springboro 8-14, Northmont 6-19. Fourth down efficiency: Springboro 0-2, Northmont 2-5. Penalties: Springboro 2-10, Northmont 2-15. Turnovers: Springboro one, Northmont 0. Time of possession: Springboro 27:19, Northmont 21:15.
By Ron Nunnari Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com