Northmont rallies from 21-point deficit to beat Springfield in overtime

Junior Xavier Vuong was all over the field Friday for Northmont. He played defensive end. He saw time at H back. He was on all the special teams units.

Finally, Vuong found himself with a chance to end the game by performing one more task: kicking a 28-yard field goal in overtime. He did it perfectly, giving Northmont a 38-35 victory against Springfield in a matchup of unbeaten teams in Clayton.

Although Vuong had not attempted a field goal this year or even in his varsity career because he’s a first-year starter, he was 17 of 19 on extra points and feeling good about the teammates around him.

“I was ready,” Vuong said. “My boys, we’ve been working on that all week. Coach (Tony Broering) has drilled special teams into us. We worked on it so much. I was confident in my boys. Once I saw the ball there, I knew it was over.”

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Those “boys” were holder Nathan Schommer, a sophomore, and snapper Sam King, a junior. Both also play quarterback, and Broering also coaches the quarterbacks group. He works with them the most and was confident in the whole group.

“We did believe in Xavier,” Broering said. “Xavier has been great all year. We tease him all the time he’s the MVP, and he says, ‘No, it’s Cade (Rice).' He’s a very humble kid. We knew he could make that kick. We practice special teams a lot. Every Monday, the whole practice is special teams. Every Wednesday, an hour of the 90-minute practice is special teams. We work very hard.”

The victory put Northmont (4-0) alone atop the Greater Western Ohio Conference, while Springfield (3-1) fell into a second-place tie with Wayne with two games remaining in the six-game regular season.

Northmont beat Springboro 40-36 in Week 1 on a 32-yard pass from Rice to Markus Allen on 4th-and-19 in the final seconds. This victory was even more improbable because the Thunderbolts trailed 28-7 after one quarter and faced a 28-14 deficit entering the fourth quarter.

ExplorePhotos: Northmont vs. Springfield

“It’s not easy looking at the scoreboard when it says 28-7," Rice said. "We never put our chins down. The main thing I was trying to tell the guys on the sideline is we were never out of this game.”

Rice completed 20 of 43 passes for 293 yards. He threw three touchdown passes totaling 133 yards in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter.

The comeback started with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Rice to Rod Moore with 10:06 to play. Then Moore’s 20-yard touchdown catch on 4th-and-10 with 6:12 left tied the score at 28-28. Moore caught 11 passes for 150 yards.

Finally, a 53-yard pass from Rice to Markus Allen, who caught seven passes for 121 yards, gave Northmont a 35-28 lead with 4:09 to play.

Even that wasn’t enough in a game full of momentum shifts. Springfield tied the game on a 1-yard run by Te’Sean Smoot with 1:40 remaining. The game went to overtime. Springfield got the ball first but missed a 37-yard field goal, setting up Vuong for the winning kick.

It was a disappointing loss for Springfield, which needed only four players to score its first two touchdowns.

The Wildcats went 80 yards in three plays, taking just 20 seconds off the clock to get the first score. Te’Smoot threw a 50-yard pass to Shawn Thigpen on the first play of the game and then scored on a short run on the third play.

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Springfield then scored on the first play of the next drive. Smoot threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Ben Van Noord.

After Springfield’s Delian Bradley intercepted Rice and returned the ball 55 yards, the Wildcats scored again on a 12-yard pass from Smoot to Robert Jordan.

With 11.6 seconds left in the first quarter, Smoot threw a 90-yard touchdown pass to Brown.

Smoot completed 18 of 31 passes for 400 yards with three touchdown passes and two rushing scores. Those numbers would be good enough to win most games but fell just short in this one.

“It was a crazy game all the way around,” Broering said.

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