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Montgomery falls to Northwest, 21-10, in Week 2 of football

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Coltin Hans (81) of Montgomery has a pass thrown to him slip through his hands as he is covered by Adam Chonko(9) of Northwest at Montgomery High School Friday night.

MONTGOMERY – It’s now how you start, but how you finish. Sometimes, that works in your favor, yet other times it doesn’t.

Unfortunately for Montgomery, it was the latter on Friday. Despite 245 passing yards on 31-of-48 passing from Logan Almeida, Montgomery gave up a pair of second half touchdowns to Northwest, and that along with an inability to finish its second half drives after a very strong first half led to a 21-10 loss for the Red Raiders to the Rangers.

“I was very proud of our kids because this team dominated us 10 months ago,” said Montgomery coach Paul Bozella. “We turned the tables on them in the first two quarters. I was very proud of our offense. Almeida was a general tonight and everybody contributed.”

Montgomery forced a pair of first quarter fumbles by Northwest but was only able to capitalize on one of them late in the first quarter. They got a 25-yard touchdown reception by Maurice Walters, which came on a short forward pitch. Walters ran into a Northwest wall on the left side after receiving the pitch, before reversing field and going around the right side and into the end zone for the touchdown.

The Red Raiders then took a 10-0 lead on their next drive when Gabe McNear kicked a 22-yard field goal, which capped a 60-yard drive that took over five minutes, but was stalled inside the 10.

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Logan Almeida of Montgomery passes under pressure from George May of Northwest at Montgomery High School Friday night.

While turnovers hurt the Rangers early, it was a turnover that shifted the momentum to Northwest late in the first half. On Montgomery’s next drive following its field goal, Kaide Drick fumbled on his own 20-yard line, and the ball was recovered by Northwest at the Montgomery 7-yard line with 2:31 left in the half. Three plays later, Ryan Wassel rolled out to his left and found Chase Biller in the corner of the end zone with 1:10 left in the half to cut the lead to 10-7 heading into halftime.

“We made a mistake there (on the turnover) and we’re still young enough where that’s going to weigh in our minds a little bit,” said Bozella. “I challenged them at halftime to forget about it. We answered them every time (in the second half) when they got the momentum and went down the field but we just never finished it.”

“We didn’t play very well in the first quarter and really the entire first half,” said Northwest coach Lon Hazlet. “It’s a different game right now with no fans and no one to come watch you. You have to sort of generate your own energy and we haven’t done that in the last two weeks out of the gate.”

In the second half, Northwest amassed 145 of their 217 rushing yards in the second half as a steady diet of George May eventually got to the Red Raiders. May went over the century mark for the second straight week as he finished with 108 rushing yards on 21 carries, including 62 in the second half.

But just as much a story as the Rangers’ second-half running game and better ball security in the second half was Northwest’s second half defense, which held Montgomery scoreless. Montgomery advanced the ball into Northwest territory on all four of its second half drives, including all the way to the 14-yard line in one drive. But in all four drives, which together produced 167 yards of Montgomery’s 264 yards on the night, Northwest stopped the Red Raiders – three times on downs and one punt.

“We did a good job of keeping (the passes) underneath,” said Hazlet. “We didn’t give up the big play and you don’t like to give up those chunks but at the same time we were able to keep things in front. We have two freshmen corners so we have a lot to learn but they did well tonight.”

“At the end, them running downhill and chewing up the clock and them going to a prevent defense made it tough for us to capitalize in the red zone,” said Bozella.

Northwest then received the second half kickoff, got a nice 28-yard return from Carter Hontz, and put together a sustained, 10-play drive that culminated with a 16-yard touchdown from Wassel to Landon Hufford in the back of the end zone, with two Montgomery defenders on him. A big 53-yard run by Wassel was the key play of that drive.

After the Rangers forced Montgomery to punt, they took over at their own-yard line and proceeded to advance the ball 95 yards in eight plays, capped by a May 10-yard run to go up 21-10.

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