Springfield High School senior wide receiver Larry Stephens catches a touchdown pass during a game against Northmont on Friday night in Springfield. The Wildcats won 28-17. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

High School Football: Second-half rally lifts Springfield past Northmont

On Friday night against Northmont, the 5-foot-11, 240-pound power back broke free for a 68-yard touchdown — the second-longest of his career — to clinch a 28-17 victory over the Thunderbolts at Springfield High School.

“It’s a big, big win,” Smoot said. “My coaches always tell me to break them down for the first three quarters then break loose, have fun out there and break one.”

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Springfield beat Northmont for the first time since 2016 and earned its first win at the high school stadium since moving from Evans Stadium.

Trailing 17-14 with nine minutes remaining, Wildcats sophomore quarterback Te’Sean Smoot found senior Jalan Minney on a 56-yard touchdown pass for the go-ahead score.

“It’s good to get one,” said Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass. “More than anything, I’m happy for our seniors and this team because it’s our first win at the high school (stadium) and to get a victory against a really good Northmont team. I’m just proud of my guys.”

Tay’Veon Smoot rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and Te’Sean Smoot went 12-for-20 for 250 yards passing and two TDs for Springfield, which improved to 3-1 overall.

Springfield senior Larry Stephens caught six passes for 112 yards and a TD, while Minney caught two passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

The Wildcats scored on a 2-yard run by Tay’Veon Smoot on its first possession to take an early 7-0 lead. After a 29-yard field goal by Northmont’s Brandon Goodwin made it 7-3, Te’Sean Smoot hit Stephens on a 36-yard TD pass to make it 10-7.

“It was a great read and a great play by (Larry),” Douglass said. “It was a great call by (offensive coordinator Chris Wallace). We thought it would be open on the back side. If you try to take Larry one-on-one, you’ve got to have a really special corner to get it done. It was a great throw by Te and our line gave him enough time to get it there.”

Northmont (2-2) roared back to take a 17-14 lead after back-to-back TD passes by Keaton Kesling — a 36-yard toss to Justin Golson and a 49-yard strike to Jazz Keys early in the fourth quarter. Kesling finished 23-of-49 for 244 yards and two TDS, while Keys had eight catches for 104 yards and Golson added six receptions for 97 yards.

“We didn’t play very well at all in the first half, especially on offense and that’s not typical of us,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering. “We were a little frustrated there. In the third quarter we came out firing on all cylinders and got after it. Springfield is just really good.”

After the Wildcats reclaimed the lead, Northmont drove the ball deep into Springfield territory on the next series. On fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Minney intercepted a Thunderbolts pass midway through the fourth..

“All week we talked about making the play,” Douglass said. “You don’t know when that play is going to be, but you’ve got to take advantage of it when you can. That was his one opportunity when they threw the ball to the guy he was covering and he made the play. I’m happy for him. He’s a kid that’s faced so many obstacles in life and I’m glad to see he was rewarded.”

On the next series, Smoot took the ball to the house to seal the victory. He gave all the credit to his defense and the guys who open the holes for him.

“Our defense stepped up big and when it was crunch time, the line stepped up and blocked,” Smoot said.

Springfield travels to Fairmont next Friday. The Firebirds (0-4) have beaten the Wildcats in each of the last two regular seasons. After falling in the season finale last year, Springfield rebounded to beat the Firebirds in the first round of the D-I, Region 3 playoffs.

“We’ve got to have a short memory,” Douglass said. “We’ve got to come in on Monday and get ready for Fairmont.”

Northmont (2-2) travels to Trotwood-Madison (3-1) next week.

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