Still smarting from a loss to Springfield last season, Northmont running back Devin Kenerly had extra incentive for some senior payback.
“I have a lot of family (in Springfield) and I don’t want to hear (about losing) from them,” he assured.
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Kenerly saw to that, rushing for a career-high 264 yards and scoring all three touchdowns as Northmont landed an impressive 22-10 high school football knockout of Springfield in a Week 7 Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover matchup at Evans Stadium on Friday night.
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Besides the revenge factor, postseason positioning also was on the line. Both teams are in Division I, Region 3. Although unofficial, it appears they swapped positions. Northmont (5-2) moved up to No. 7 and Springfield (5-2) slipped to No. 9. The top eight in each region qualify for the playoffs.
Springfield had no answer for Kenerly, who had 31 carries and scored on runs of 6, 4 and 1 yards. He also had a dash of 69 yards, although Northmont failed to score after getting inside Springfield’s 5. That put him at 1,002 yards rushing for the season.
“I think he’s the best running back in Southwest Ohio,” said Northmont coach Tony Broering, formerly the coach at Springfield South. “Somebody is going to have to convince me he’s not. He’s a fantastic kid, an awesome person and a great football player.”
Northmont quarterback Miles Johnson was 11 of 19 passing for 121 yards. Drake Hickman and Donavin Wallace each had four catches for the Thunderbolts.
Springfield senior QB Leonard Taylor completed 15 of 28 passes for 148 yards. His go-to receiver was senior Caleb Johnson, who had seven catches for 102 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown catch that briefly put the Wildcats up 10-7 early in the third quarter.
But unlike Kenerly’s production, Springfield managed just 81 total rushing yards.
“One thing I’m finding out about this group, they can’t handle distractions very well,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass with a nod to homecoming festivities. “They haven’t learned that part yet. That’s the part of learning how to win and you’ve got to be able to handle those things.”
Trailing 14-10, Springfield dodged another Northmont score when Kedric Holt forced a fumble near the goal line and teammate Quincy Scott recovered. However, Scott’s momentum carried him into the end zone, where he elected to throw a pass and was penalized.
That resulted in a safety and Kenerly answered with his final score as Northmont converted on the resulting free kick.
“That turned everything around,” said Douglass.
Both teams are chasing divisional titles and playoff positioning. Northmont has lost only to unbeaten Winton Woods and Wayne in double-overtime. The Thunderbolts host unbeaten Centerville (7-0) in Week 8 before finishing with GWOC National West rivals Springboro (3-4) and Miamisburg (3-4).
Springfield’s other loss was to Centerville. The Wildcats host Beavercreek (5-2) in Week 8, then are at Wayne (5-2) and Fairmont (6-1). Their computer points standing will rocket should Springfield get through that back-loaded schedule.
“We’ve got to win and take advantage of the opportunity that we have,” said Douglass.