GALION — The Hillsdale Falcons pulled off an upset and nail-biting victory against the Northmor Golden Knights with a 25-21 victory in the opening round of Division VI, Region 22 playoffs.
After taking the lead with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last with 3:11 on the clock, Hillsdale (8-3) needed to stop Northmor (9-2) on its final drive. QB Hunter Mariotti threw the ball five straight times, getting the ball down to his 46-yard line before a sack had Northmor looking at fourth and 17 with 1:42 to play at the Knights’ 39. The Falcons smelled pass on the next play, and Brock Hoverstock picked off the throw to seal the win.
The first and only score of the first quarter was a 23-yard field goal by Hillsdale’s Justin Ziegler, but the Knights struck back in the second quarter with a 66-yard Mariotti touchdown pass to Blake Miller which left the score 7-3. The Falcons answered with a Hoverstock pass to Ziegler for a 75-yard touchdown, giving them a 10-7 advantage, but Mariotti and Miller connected for 12 yards with 26 seconds to play in the half to give Northmor a 14-10 halftime lead.
The Knights took the lead to its largest, 21-10, on Mariotti’s 35-yard pass to Miller, and the score remained there until the start of the fourth quarter. Hillsdale, however, scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win the game. Ethan Goodwin cut the lead to 21-16 with a dynamic 73-yard touchdown run, and a successful two-point conversion by Ty Williams had the lead down to 21-18.
Northmor tried to convert a fourth-and-two play to sustain a drive with 6:42 left in the game, but Wyatt Reeder was stuffed for no gain at his own 34. That gave the Falcons a short field, and at the 3:11 mark, Brian Funk took it in from the 3 for a 25-21 Falcons’ lead.
Reeder ran 27 times for 121 yards for Northmor, and Mariotti completed 12 of 31 passes for 198 yards, three touchdowns, all to Miller (4 catches, 142 yards), but also two interceptions. The Knights gained 308 total yards to Hillsdale’s 381.
The Falcons had two 100-yard rushers, Williams (15 for 140) and Goodwin (9 for 105).
Northmor head coach Scott Armrose spoke about what he might have done differently in the game against the Falcons and how proud he was of his seniors despite the tough loss in the playoffs. He also spoke about the future of the Northmor football team and how the team plans on continuing to be successful.
“We had two drives in the second half that we didn’t finish,” Armrose said. “We had the ball in our red-zone area and we needed to finish them and we didn’t. I wish I could go back and call different plays and do it over again.
“I told our seniors how much I love them, how proud I am of them, of what they accomplished; the adversity that we had to overcome early in the season and what they’ve been able to accomplish,” Armrose added. “They’ve won more games than any class in our school’s history. I’m proud of them. I love those guys. They are a great group. They’ve really changed the expectations here at Northmor. Because of the senior class that we graduate our expectation is to come in and compete. We want to win football games. We’re excited about the future here. What I love most about the guys who are coming back is they’ve been watching the upperclassmen do it for three years. They know what it takes to win. They know what it takes to be successful, and because of the leadership they’ve had in front of them the last three years, they are going to do it. Our future is bright.”