LEBANON — Northmont needed extra time to escape Lebanon with a 41-38 win Friday night.
But it was an extra inch gained by senior running back Paul Winkler that allowed the Thunderbolts to avoid suffering a shocking upset in this see-saw affair.
Trailing 35-28 with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Winkler appeared to be stopped in the backfield on a 4th-and-1 play at the Lebanon nine yard line. But Winkler broke through the tackle, crawled and stretched for the first down, getting it by the nose of the ball. On the next play, Northmont quarterback Cameron Belton (21-of-27 for 225 yards) found Jordan Taylor in the end zone to force OT.
In the extra period, after Lebanon kicker Luke Goshorn made a 37-yard field goal, Winkler (21 carries, 88 yards) ran it in from the 3-yard line for the game-winning score.
“Sometimes you just have to dig down, have heart and fight for it,” Winkler said. “I had to crawl a little bit on that fourth down play but got the spot.
“Our offensive line did a great job tonight. On the winning touchdown, I just found the hole and took it in.”
The Thunderbolts (3-2) relied on the ground game in the second half, rushing for 150 yards on 37 carries.
“We ran effectively,” Northmont coach Lance Schneider said. “We saw some things on film that we thought we could take advantage of and the line blocked well and Paul ran hard.
“I’m proud of the way our kids battled back after Lebanon took the lead. We stepped up and made plays when we had to”
Lebanon (2-3) trailed 21-7 in the second quarter but stormed back to take the lead, aided two Northmont turnovers.
Junior Aaron Abbott — who led all rushers with 109 yards on 15 carries — scored a pair of second half touchdowns to give the Warriors a 28-21 lead. The second came on the heels of a 68-yard interception return by Michael Edwards that put the ball at the Northmont nine.
After Lebanon’s Zach Blaha recovered a Kaleb Ringer fumble at midfield, Lebanon took a 35-28 lead when sophomore quarterback Luke Morgan scrambled on 4th-and-9 and found Colton Conover alone in the end zone for a 34-yard scoring pass with 5:15 remaining in the game.
“I think we showed tonight that it doesn’t matter what conference you’re in or how big your school is, when you come to Lebanon you better come ready to play,” Lebanon coach Shawn Lamb said. “I hope now that our kids know they can beat anybody on our schedule. We grew into a football team tonight.”