PDT Sports Writer
SCIOTOVILLE — The number 355 sticks out to many when regarding last week’s East-South Gallia game.
That was the number of rushing yards Tartans senior quarterback Justin Crager finished with in the game against the Rebels. But when fans left Friday night’s Northwest-East game, the number eight told the biggest story.
The figure was the number of inches the Mohawks came from extending a fourth quarter drive by making it first and goal as they trailed by 10. But a fourth down push came up eight inches short and turned the ball over to East and Crager, who stuck a dagger into Northwest’s heart by rushing 97 yards for the final touchdown in a 36-19 victory for the Tartans.
“We played with a lot of heart tonight,” East coach Todd Gilliland said. “We did make a lot of mistakes here and there but the one thing you can say is that our kids played hard, they played with heart and they didn’t give up when we were in tough situations.”
The opening possession for both teams resulted in lost fumbles. After a three-and-out on their next series, the Mohawks were forced to punt.
Tyler Bradford made Northwest pay as he returned a 36-yard punt return for the first score of the night. Shain Seibert’s kick made it 7-0.
The Mohawks cut into the lead late in the first when Dustin Seaman’s six-yard plunge capped off a 12-play, 65-yard drive that included a play in which both teams lost a fumble on the same play. Dylan Amberguey’s kick failed and kept it a one-point deficit against Northwest.
“We came in this week and really wanted to get back to the basics and be physical because I didn’t feel we were very physical last week against (Chillicothe) Southeastern,” Mohawks coach Brooks Fry said. “Honestly, if we played that way against Southeastern last week, it’s a non-issue.”
On the first offensive play of the ensuing drive for the Tartans, Crager knifed his way through the Northwest defense for a 78-yard touchdown run. Seibert’s kick was blocked, making it 13-6 with 1:15 left in the opening stanza.
East’s lead grew to 21-6 during the latter stages of the half when Crager scored his second touchdown of the contest, an 8-yard dash that also included a two-point conversion run by Bradford. The Tartans looked to be cruising going into the locker rooms but a late tally by the Mohawks, a 2-yard push by Seaman, made it 21-12 going into the half.
The second half started with possession to East and it didn’t take long for the points to rack up. Crager’s third scamper of the evening, a 73-yard race to pay dirt, capped of a three-play drive that took just 1:24 off the clock.
“With Justin’s strength and speed, he has that ability to pop one on any given play,” Gilliland said. “And he’s been able to do that. He’s our offensive leader and it helped tonight having Tyler Bradford in the backfield to take a little bit of the pressure off of him.”
Northwest responded on its ensuing march as Seaman found the end zone after a 36-yard journey. Amberguey’s kick made it 29-19 with 8:02 remaining in the third.
The Mohawks looked to make it a one-score game in the fourth, deliberately marching down the field with heavy dosages of the run game. They had a first-and-10 at the Tartan 12 but the East defense would prevent another first down in the drive and earned possession on a fourth-and-2 stop.
“We went out in the huddle and said it was one of those times in the game where you say what do you guys think,” Fry said. “You need a yard, what do you think? They said we can do this and I said we’re going for it”
Three plays later, Crager’s run sealed the game. He finished with 297 yards rushing on 18 carries.
“He’s a gamer,” Gilliland said. “In both games so far when we’ve needed him, he got it done.”
Next Friday, Northwest travels to Chillicothe Huntington while the Tartans play the first of their two games this season against SOC I rival Green. The first contest will be in Sciotoville.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
Northwest 6 6 7 0 — 19
East 13 8 8 7 — 36
E — Bradford 36 punt return (Seibert kick) 7:50
NW — Seaman 6 run (kick failed) 1:33
E — Crager 78 run (kick blocked) 1:15
E — Crager 8 run (Bradford rush) 4:51
NW — Seaman 2 run (pass failed) 0:21
E — Crager 73 run (Bradford rush) 10:35
NW — Seaman 36 run (Amberguey kick) 8:02
NW — Crager 97 run (Seibert kick) 2:53
First Downs 16 10
Rush Att.-Yds. 55-208 29-339
Pass Att.-Comp.-Int. 11-6-1 7-1-0
Pass Yds. 73 14
Total Yds. 281 353
Punts-Avg. 4-34 2-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 2-2
Turnovers 3 2
Penalties-Yds. 7-65 7-55
RUSHING: Northwest — Bazler 8-47, Seaman 17-41, Douglas 9-38, Slack 11-35, Burton 4-30, Meadows 6-17; East — Crager 18-297, Bradford 8-26, Haddox 1-3.
PASSING: Northwest — Seaman 11-6-1 73; East — Crager 7-1-0 14.
RECEIVING: Northwest — Burnworth 3-35, Scarberry 2-28, Campbell 1-10; East — Bradford 1-14.
RECORDS: Northwest 0-2; East 2-0.