Unbeaten Northmont rallies for ‘crazy’ playoff win over Marysville

Northmont receiver Rod Moore heads up field Friday night with one of his four receptions from Cade Rice during the Thunderbolts 48-41 playoff victory over Marysville. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Northmont, it seemed, was out of magical comebacks Friday night. The Thunderbolts' 17-point lead became a seven-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, and their prolific offense hadn’t scored in almost 20 minutes.

However, like four opponents before them, the Marysville Monarchs didn’t know the Thunderbolts had them right where they wanted them.

Senior quarterback Cade Rice and his speedy receivers showed Marysville that the stories about miracle comebacks are all true. Rice threw the final two of his seven touchdown passes in the final two minutes and 20 seconds and Northmont scored a 48-41 Division I, Region 2 playoff victory.

“There’s not a situation where I put my head down,” Rice said. “There’s not a situation where I don’t think we have this wrapped because we’ve been through some crazy things this year.”

The list of crazy is this: Rice to Markus Allen with nine seconds left to beat Springboro; from 28-7 down to beat Springfield 38-35 in overtime; a comeback to beat Miamisburg in overtime; Rice to Allen with 27 seconds left to beat Wayne 28-27.

“Man, oh, man when you’ve got kids like that on the team it’s fun to coach them,” Northmont coach Tony Broering said. “I begged them this week and said, ‘Guys, I just want to keep coaching you.’”

And he will at 7 p.m. Friday at home against GWOC rival Springfield, a 31-19 winner Friday over Wayne.

“We know how good Springfield is and we know how talented they are,” Rice said. “And they’re one of the only teams that can keep up with us speed wise, so it’s going to be a challenge again.”

Marysville was driving in the fourth quarter with runs between the tackles toward a go-ahead score. Then Gabe Powers threw a halfback pass for a 35-yard touchdown and 41-34 lead with 3:24 left. The Monarchs had scored too soon.

Rice quickly moved the Thunderbolts to the four and hit junior receiver TJ Gregory in the right corner of the end zone with 2:20 left. The Northmont defense forced a punt, and Rice got the ball back with just under two minutes left.

With 16 seconds left, sophomore Javien Brownlee made the winning catch, outleaping a defender at the goal line for a 20-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left.

“I knew the game was on the line and the coaches they prepared us for that type of moment,” Brownlee said. “So when he threw it I knew I had to do what I had to do.”

Brownlee was playing for the first time since he suffered a broken right index finger in the third game of the season. He was cleared Thursday to begin catching the ball.

“He comes out and does that?,” Broering said. “All the boys are like that when it’s their time to step up.”

Northmont’s receiving corps stepped up many times Friday. Allen, who has committed to play at Michigan, caught 10 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Rod Moore caught four passes for 84 yards, Gregory caught three for 71 yards and two touchdowns. And Brownlee caught eight for 49 yards and two touchdowns.

“It meant a lot to have him back on the field because he’s like a little brother to me,” Allen said of Brownlee. “He put the team on his back on that last play, and that’s what grown men do at a young age.”

Rice, who transferred from Greenon this season, has thrown for 2,128 yards and 30 touchdowns in eight games. On Friday, he completed 27 of 42 passes for 384 yards.

“When you have a quarterback like Cade it’s easy to believe because he’s so special,” Broering said. “Some of the things he does are unbelievable.”

It’s been that kind of season for Northmont.

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