CINCINNATI - Mother Nature rained on their Homecoming parade, but the Northwest Knights were determined that the Edgewood Cougars were not going to rain on their perfect season. Both teams were looking to win this pivotal Southwest Ohio Conference game and take one step closer to making an appearance in this year's playoffs.
Edgewood's(5-2, 2-2) David Jones took the opening kickoff and returned the ball 55 yards just over midfield. The Cougar offense had early success moving the ball up the field. AJ Pieratt and Matt Barger both had key third-down runs to keep the drive moving but an uncharacteristic procedure penalty along with a fumble which Edgewood recovered, stalled the drive just inside the Northwest (7-0, 4-0) 20-yard line.
The Knights, looking to get their explosive offense down the field and into the end zone for the game's first score, found a determined Cougar defense ready to make some plays, Jason Phillips found a crease on his first of 19 carries and was able to rush for 12 of his 107 yards for a Northwest first down.
The Edgewood defense then settled down and had a chance to get the ball back but Cory Roberson, the Northwest quarterback, completed a 59-yard pass to Ramar Harriston and the Knights were inside the Cougar 20-yard line and moving the ball with confidence. The drive would be capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Phillips and Northwest was out in front 7-0.
Edgewood again would have great field position as Pieratt brought the ball back 40 yards to the midfield stripe to start their second possession. This time the Knights defense, determined to keep the Cougars scoreless, was able to stop Edgewood on three consecutive plays and force the game's first punt.
Now with a chance to take a two-score lead early in the game the Northwest squad was looking to put the ball back into the end zone. Again, Edgewood did a good job stopping the Knights on the ground but on third down and long, Roberson found an open man down field and completed a 45-yard pass to Darius Johnson and Northwest was again inside Cougar territory and just as the first drive ended Phillips carried the ball into the en dzone for what would be his second of four touchdowns on the night to give Northwest a 14-0 lead.
After two great kick returns by Edgewood, the Knights elected to squib kick the ensuing kickoff and Austin Garrett picked the ball up and gave the Cougars excellent field position. Edgewood looking to get the ball moving again went to their workhorse Barger, who broke a couple tackles and thundered down field for 24 of his 177 yards rushing on the night. Eric Pelfrey then went to the air and found Cody Hall for two completions and Edgewood was on the move. Barger scored from four yards out to complete the drive and trim the lead to seven.
The Knights would start their third drive off with a miscue as they fumbled the pitch and after three or four attempts to recover the ball neither team could come up with it and the ball rolled out of bounds. Edgewood's defense was able to force the only Northwest punt and get their offense back on the field with a chance to tie this game up.
The Cougars who found success all night running the ball continued to ask their big guys up front to control the line of scrimmage. They responded by pushing the Knights backwards and giving the Edgewood backs running room on almost every down. After trailing by 14 the Cougars would again get the ball in the end zone as Barger scored his second touchdown of the game and tied the score 14-14 with 3:54 to go in the first half.
The Cougars would strike first in the second half after Pieratt slipped into the end zone from three yards out and Edgewood would find themselves on top with a score of 21-14. Pieratt would finish the night off with 75 yards rushing behind the offensive line of James Whipple, Austin Middleton, Corey Manning, Chad Heineman and Austin Rice.
Northwest, looking to keep their perfect season alive would not go away without a fight and again, Roberson would conduct another touchdown drive that would be capped off by Phillips as he got into the end zone this time from 7 yards out to make the score 21-21 with 3:42 to play in the third quarter.
On their next possession Edgewood was able to get the ball down to the 7-yard line and had it first and goal but was unable to capitalize. Northwest took over on downs at the 4-yard line. Roberson again led his team down field this time on his feet as he rushed up the middle to gain crucial yards. He would finish the night with 76 yards rushing along with nine completions for 190 yards. The drive ended with Phillips in the end zone and the Knights leading 28-21 with 1:43 to play.
The game ended with a score Northwest 35 Edgewood 28, after Dominick Williams
returned an interception for a score and Edgewood's Mason Back found the end zone on a pass from Pelfrey with :42 to play.
Next up, Edgewood will be at home against Talawanda. Northwest will again be at home facing a struggling Little Miami team.