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Landon Hufford leads Northwest Area rushing attack in win over Sayre

Written by: on Sunday, October 17th, 2021. Follow David Mika on Twitter.


SHICKSHINNY – Early on, it looked like Northwest might be in for a long night on Saturday as the Rangers hosted Sayre.

Northwest fumbled on three of its first five offensive plays, including its first two. The Rangers lost one, and it directly led to Sayre’s first touchdown of the game.

But from that point forward, it was actually Sayre that had the long night. Northwest ended up gashing Sayre’s defense for 350 rushing yards and the Rangers stunned the Redskins 30-20.

“We thought we could go after them and that we might be a little better upfront, but we hadn’t shown that,” said Northwest coach Lon Hazlet. “We thought we could run the ball but I didn’t really think we could run it as well as we did. But Landon got loose and the offensive line was really the difference in the game. They dominated upfront.”

The win is the second straight for Northwest and the first of the year for the Rangers over a team that entered the game with a winning record. The two teams Northwest previously beat this year both had zero wins. It also keeps the Rangers (3-4) in the race for a District 4 Class 2A playoff berth in their first year in District 4, while simultaneously dealing a blow to Sayre (5-3). The Redskins had entered the week in fourth place in Class 2A and in line for a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

“I told the guys they need to get themselves up (to play), that we can’t do it for them,” said Sayre coach Kevin Gorman. “Our front is good, we’ve shown it before, and we came out and played well last week (22-21 win over Troy). In some games, we’re good, but in some games, we just lay an egg and this was one of those.”

The Redskins simply had no answer for Landon Hufford. Northwest’s senior back scored 28 of the Rangers’ 30 points, as he ran for 187 yards and scored all four of his team’s touchdowns, and also ran in a pair of two-point conversions.

Northwest did all that damage despite being flagged 14 times, which gave Sayre a free 137 yards in penalties, including five times alone on a single drive in the second quarter. That drive, which started with 10:58 on the clock, took nearly eight minutes off the clock, though it ended with the Rangers turning it over on downs in the red zone.

“I’m disappointed in our lack of self-discipline with our penalties and very frustrated with that,” said Hazlet. “But we played hard and physical and we had a great week of practice. Why did we play better tonight? Because we had a solid work week and getting Landon back fully healthy made a big difference.”

Sayre fumbled the ball away on the first play of its ensuing drive after stopping Northwest on its near eight-minute drive. That gave the Rangers the ball at the Sayre 24 and three plays later, Hufford found the end zone from 18 yards out, and Carter Hontz’s run on the two-point conversion made it 24-6 at the half.

Hontz was also a key part of the Northwest rushing attack, as he picked up 68 yards on 14 carries, while Jake Bobersky had 86 yards on 12 carries. Hontz only threw the ball three times, but he completed two of those passes for 26 yards.

That giveaway put the Rangers on the doorstep, but it was another miscue early that seemed to shift the momentum earlier in the first half. After Brayden Horton found Luke Horton for a 17-yard touchdown pass on Sayre’s first drive, Northwest fumbled away the ball again, but Sayre followed that up by going three-and-out. Punting on fourth down, Sayre had the snap go over the punter’s head, resulting in a 23-yard loss and giving Northwest the ball at the Sayre 6-yard line.

Hufford found the end zone in one play to put Northwest up 8-6 after a two-point conversion, and from that point on, Sayre didn’t get another first down until there was just :01 left on the clock in the first half. Following the fumbled snap on the punt, they punted twice more, lost the fumble and then the half ended their next drive.

Northwest, meanwhile, scored on its next drive as Hufford capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run, and then Northwest held the ball for most of the second quarter with its long drive that didn’t result in any points before Hufford scored again just before the half.

“I was very uneasy about this offense,” said Gorman. “It’s different. They went to the I-(formation), but they have that wing with a lot of motion, and my worries kind of became true because they just pumped it right down our throat. We were punched in the face early and didn’t quite know how to recover.”

In the second half, Sayre got the ball first and took advantage of a pair of Northwest penalties to put together a quick four-play, 71-yard drive capped by a Brayden Horton 24-yard touchdown run that cut Northwest’s lead to 24-14.

But Northwest answered back immediately as Hufford got loose for a 28-yard pickup on the first play of the Rangers’ ensuing drive, and he later finished the drive with a three-yard run.

The Redskins did manage to score again late in the third quarter as they took advantage of a shanked punt by Northwest and got the ball at the Ranger 24, and Brayden Horton ran it in for a 24-yard touchdown on their first play of the drive.

But prior to that, Sayre was stopped on downs at the Northwest 4-yard line earlier in the third quarter. Then, later in the fourth quarter, with the Redskins looking to cut it to a one-possession game with still enough time left, Brayden Horton was picked off by Carter Hontz near midfield with just under five minutes to play, and from there, Northwest ran out the clock with its strong running game, with Bobersky playing the role of closer as he picked up 45 of his 86 rushing yards on that one possession.

Northwest 30, Sayre 20
Sayre (5-3)              6    0   14   0   – 20
Northwest (3-4)       8   16   6    0   – 30

9:15 – (S) Luke Horton 17-yard pass from Brayden Horton (pass failed), 5-35, 1:50
6:20 – (NW) Landon Hufford 6-yard run (Hufford run), 1-6, :05

11:58 – (NW) Landon Hufford 1-yard run (Hufford run), 9-55, 4:35
:29 – (NW) Landon Hufford 18-yard run (Hontz run), 3-24, 1:25

9:52 – (S) Brayden Horton 24-yard run (Arnold pass from Horton), 4-71, 2:08
6:58 – (NW) Landon Hufford 3-yard run (run failed), 6-72, 2:52
:37 – (S) Jackson Hubbard 24-yard pass from Brayden Horton (pass failed), 1-24, :10

                                         S                        N

First downs                      11                       20
Rushes-net yards          20-87                 58-350

Passing yardage             113                      26

Passing                       7-17-2-1              2-3-0-0

Fumbles-lost                   3-1                      3-2

Penalties-yards              8-69                  14-137

RUSHING — Sayre: Brayden Horton (8-69-1), David Northrup (8-38), Jake Bennett (2-(-2)), Zack Garrity (1-5), TEAM (1-(-23)); Northwest: Landon Hufford (23-187-4), Carter Hontz (14-68), Jake Bobersky (12-86), Adam Chonko (3-3), Derek Dietz (2-14), Hunter Gmiter (2-10), TEAM (2-(-18))

PASSING — Sayre: Brayden Horton (7-17-113-2-1); Northwest: Carter Hontz (2-3-26-0-0)

RECEIVING — Sayre: Luke Horton (3-31-1), Jackson Hubbard (2-33-1), Dylan Watkins (1-40), Josh Arnold (1-9); Northwest: Hunter Gmiter (1-15), Andrew Bonczewski (1-11)

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