LIMA — Five turnovers and multiple penalties were too much for Lima Senior to overcome in the Spartans’ 56-13 loss to Northmont in the season opener at Spartan Stadium Friday night.
The miscues and yellow hankies plagued the newly installed spread offense throughout the night and hampered the Spartans’ ability to move the ball on offense.
“We hurt ourselves,” Spartan coach Andre Griffin said. “They weren’t that much better than us. I know my team, and we hurt ourselves. We self-inflicted. We have to learn how to win.”
The Spartans had more penalties, seven, than first downs, five, in the first half. On the night, the Spartans had nine turnovers for 99 yards. For the game, Lima Senior managed 133 total yards.
The Spartans, who could do little on the ground, finished with 8 yards rushing for the game.
“Our defense was very good and created a lot of turnovers,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “I think we forced four turnovers in the first half. That was big and it put our offense in good position to score. Lima Senior did make some mistakes in the kicking game and on offense, but I think a lot of that was due to us. We spend an inordinate amount of time on special teams play so we work hard on that so we won’t have any issues. Our defense creates problems for people. They are really fast. Every time I turned around we were forcing a turnover.”
Broering credited first year defensive playesr Rod Moore and Andrew Knick for coming up interceptions.
Spartan quarterback Rashaad Wallace had a roller coaster night. The fleet-footed signal caller showed flashes of brilliance with his ability to escape the constant Thunderbolt rush, but he was inconsistent in the passing game. For the night, Wallace completed 12 of 25 passes for 118 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. On the ground, he had 12 carries for minus-4 yards.
“Nothing was unexpected from Rashaad,” Griffin said. “Rashaad is senior, but it is his first time playing at the varsity level as a quarterback. We know there are going to be some ups and downs, but that is not why we lost the game.”
Northmont, a playoff team last year, was more than happy to take advantage of the Spartans’ turnovers. The Thunderbolts jumped out to an early 21-point lead in the first half due to Spartan turnovers. An interception, a botched punt and another pick off all led to quick scores for the Thunderbolts.
“We are very explosive on offense,” Broering noted. “Our number one wide receiver Justin Golson did a great job getting the ball and taking it to the house.”
Golson caught six passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
“The offensive line really dominated the game and created some big seams for Michael Franklin to run through,” Broering noted.
Leading the ground attack was Thunderbolt running back Michael Franklin, who rushed for 111 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Lima Senior finally cracked the scoreboard on a turnover of its own when Spartan Jermaine Daniels stepped in front of the intended receiver at the 48-yard line and then raced untouched into the end zone to collect the Spartans’ first score of the season. At the 8:09 mark of the first quarter, the Thunderbolts owned a 21-7 lead.
Northmont responded with 14 unanswered points to open a 35-7 advantage with 1:20 left in the first half.
Northmont’s balanced offensive attack finished with 389 total yards.
Thunderbolt quarterback Miles Johnson finished the game 13 for 21 with 189 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Miles Johnson went 13 for 20 with four touchdowns and he actually could have done better,” Broering said. “He is a perfectionist so he will clean up first game issues and improve. The line did a good job protecting him.”
Despite being behind 28 points, Lima Senior rallied to notch its second touchdown of the night when the Spartans went 75 yards in seven plays in just under a minute. A big 37-yard run by Wallace highlighted the drive, which was capped off when Wallace connected with Brayden O’Dell for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds left in the half. After the kicked failed, Lima Senior found itself down 35-13 at halftime.
Englewood Editor Ron Nunnari contributed to this report.