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Northwest Area beats Warrior Run, 42-7

Written by: on Saturday, October 9th, 2021. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


SHICKSHINNY – You are what your record says you are.

While true, there can always be various shades of gray when it comes to a team’s record. For Northwest, they felt they are a bit better than their 1-4 record would indicate entering Friday night’s home game against Warrior Run, and the Rangers set out to prove it.

Prove it they did, as the Rangers raced out to a 26-0 lead after one quarter and Northwest snapped a frustrating three-game losing streak with a 42-7 win over the Defenders.

“We think we’re a better football team than our record indicates but at the same time, you are what your record says you are,” said Northwest coach Lon Hazlet. “We wanted to start fast tonight and we did some good things but we still need to clean some stuff up. It was nice to see them smile and run, hit and hustle, and see them excited about a game. I’m just happy for them. They needed a win and we got one tonight.”

The Rangers were coming off a frustrating stretch of games. After a narrow one-point loss back in Week 3 to a surging Cowanesque Valley team that currently sits in third place in the District 4 Class 3A rankings after a win on Friday, Northwest had a game canceled and then was outscored by a combined 82-6 the last two weeks by Canton and Muncy, who will likely meet in Week 11 for the District’s Class A crown.

Northwest let out that frustration in a productive way early on, as they took advantage of four Warrior Run turnovers and turned three of them into points. While the Rangers weren’t without turnover problems of their own – they also committed a pair – they weren’t hurt by their two giveaways. The first came on the opening possession of the game, as a lost fumble at the Warrior Run 29 stopped what was a promising drive that had started at the Northwest 18.

But Carter Hontz answered as he picked off a Warrior Run pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown on the Defenders’ ensuing possession, and a successful two-point conversion gave the Rangers an 8-0 lead.

That was just the beginning of the night for Hontz, who threw for 155 yards on 7-of-14 passing and also added 52 on the ground and accounted for three total touchdowns – one running, one passing, and the interception return.

Following Hontz’ pick-six, the teams then traded turnovers, and Northwest lost another fumble, but the Defenders recovered it at their own 1-yard line, and on their first subsequent offensive play, Logan Smedley was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 10-0.

Northwest made it 18-0 on their ensuing drive following the safety, as Landon Hufford capped a short four-play drive with a one-yard touchdown.

Warrior Run managed to drive it into Northwest territory on their next possession but was stopped on fourth down at the Northwest 39. The Rangers took over and Hontz capped a six-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run to make it 26-0 just before the end of the first quarter.

Another interception, this one by Hufford, ended Warrior Run’s next drive and gave the Rangers a short field, starting at the Warrior Run 27. Hufford capped that drive with his second touchdown, this one from six yards out, to make it 32-0.

“That’s really been our Achilles heel,” said Warrior Run coach Chris Long. “We were moving the football, and then we had something bad happen. We’re a young team but we’ve got to get over that hurdle somehow and keep from fumbling and interceptions. You don’t win many football games losing the turnover battle.”

“We have one stat that I’ve relied on for over 30 years and that’s turnover margin,” said Northwest coach Lon Hazlet. “Normally, when you steal it more than you give it away, good things happen. We haven’t necessarily done that this year and we haven’t done a good job closing outdrives, so our theme for the week was ‘finish plays, finish drives and finish the game.'”

The Rangers weren’t done in the first half as they again took advantage of another Warrior Run turnover, this one an interception by Hunter Gmiter, which stopped a Defender drive that had gotten three first downs and just outside of the red zone to the Northwest 22. Hontz hit Adam Chonko for a 15-yard touchdown reception to push the lead to 39-0.

Warrior Run then fumbled the snap while attempting to punt after going three-and-out on their next drive, and was tackled for a loss on fourth down, which again gave the Rangers a short field with under a minute to play in the first half. With their usual kicker, Matt Foley, not having dressed, the Rangers turned to offensive lineman Tristian Lepore to attempt a 27-yard field goal, and Lepore converted it to the end of the half.

“I think sometimes, kids press a little too much because we’ve been so snakebitten,” said Long. “I think they’re pressing a little bit because they know we have to be almost perfect to make things happen, and then when things don’t go our way, it’s tough to rebound. We saw a little rebounding, but then they were gashing us up the middle, so our run defense needs to come along as well in addition to taking better care of the ball on offense.”

With a running clock in the second half, the Defenders scored on their first drive to avoid the shutout as Smedley hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Newton to cap a seven-play, 60-yard drive. Thomas Royles had a nice 14-yard pickup and Newton also hit Derek Thomas for a 16-yard reception earlier in the drive.

The Rangers drove into the red zone on both of their second-half drives using mostly second-team players, including an impressive 15-play drive, but both ended on failed fourth-down conversion attempts.

Northwest 42, Warrior Run 7
Warrior Run (0-6)        0    0     7     0   – 0
Northwest (2-4)         26   16    0     0   – 0

7:14 – (N) Carter Hontz 45-yard interception return (Hufford run)
5:32 – (N) TEAM Safety
4:16 – (N) Landon Hufford 1-yard run (Bierly pass from Hontz), 4-49, 1:16
:19 – (N) Carter Hontz 5-yard run Biller pass from Hontz), 6-59, 2:23

8:56 – (N) Landon Hufford 6-yard run (run failed), 6-27, 2:56
1:39 – (N) Adam Chonko 15-yard pass from Carter Hontz (Lepore kick), 5-65, :33
:00 – (N) Tristian Lepore 27-yard field goal, 5-11, :50

8:06 – (WR) Logan Smedley 11-yard pass from Ryan Newton (McCormack kick), 7-60, 3:54

WR                   N

First downs                       9                        21

Rushes-net yards          33-65                 38-199

Passing yardage              51                      161

Passing                       6-15-1-3              8-16-1-0

Fumbles-lost                   2-1                      4-2

Penalties-yards              4-26                    2-10

RUSHING — Warrior Run: Samuel Hall (9-23), Roman Pierce (9-13), Thomas Royles (4-31), Logan Smedley (4-5), Ethan Carper (3-14), Ryan Newton (1-1), Trey Nicholas (1-(-2)), Gavin Getz (1-(-8)), TEAM (1-(-12)); Northwest: Landon Hufford (9-67-2), Andrew Bonczewski (5-(-5)), Carter Hontz (4-52-1), Tyler Reakes (4-22), Trevor Dietz (4-5), Derek Dietz (4-11), Ben Foley (3-20), Adam Chonko (2-15), Hunter Gmiter (2-13), TEAM (1-(-1))

PASSING — Warrior Run: Ryan Newton (5-13-53-1-3), Gavin Getz (1-2(-2)-0-0); Northwest: Carter Hontz (7-14-155-1-0), Andrew Bonczewski (1-2-6-0-0)

RECEIVING — Warrior Run: Derek Thomas (2-25), Logan Smedley (1-11-1), Roman Pierce (1-9), Gavin Hunter (1-8), Eli Butler (1-(-2)); Northwest: Andrew Bonczewski (3-80), Landon Hufford (2-48), Adam Chonko (2-27-1), Jace McCoy (1-6)

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