After losing its first game of the season last week, Northlake Christian was looking to right itself on Friday evening against District 7-2A rival Hannan.
The Wolverines got their win, but it didn’t come easily.
Northlake Christian shook off 11 penalties for 133 yards and an interception, closed strongly with 12 points in the final six minutes, and defeated the Hawks 33-15 at Hannan.
The win came almost exclusively because of the Northlake running game. The Wolverines rushed for 372 yards, which more than compensated for the fact they didn’t complete a pass against Hannan.
Northlake senior Miguel Black rushed 21 times for 254 yards and three touchdowns, and Adam Riche’ added 115 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.
Black said it was important for Northlake to regain mental traction after suffering a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas last week.
“This one was big,” he said. “We beat ourselves last week. It was the first loss for us in the regular season in a long time (after going 10-0 in the 2013 regular season). To win tonight, this puts us in the right mindframe again.” After nearly a quarter of scoreless play, Northlake Christian (7-1, 4-1) finally broke the drought. Riche’ took a handoff with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter and burst through the Hannan line. He easily outraced the defense to the endzone from 94 yards away and put the Wolverines ahead 6-0. The PAT failed after being blocked by Gino Guarino.
Hannan answered with 8:49 remaining in the half. The Hawks drove 60 yards on 13 plays and used 4:47 from the clock. Quarterback Jonathan Ryan rushed over center from a yard out to tie the score at 6, and the PAT was good to put Hannan up 7-6.
Northlake came right back, however, with a drive heavy on rushes by Black.
After four straight runs by the senior standout, the Wolverines went back to their running back and he rushed up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown. A 2-point conversion pass from Matt Whelan to Gary Sampson in the back left corner of the end zone put Northlake back ahead 14-7 with 6:16 to go in the second quarter.
Northlake outdistanced Hannan 148 yards to 111 yards in the half. Black had 50 yards rushing on 13 carries in the half for Northlake. The Wolverines also had two sacks in the first half.
Hannan opened the second half impressively with a nine-play drive to the Northlake 15-yard line. But the Hawks fumbled, and Northlake took over deep in its own territory.
The length was not a concern, however, as the ball went back to Black, who rushed up the left sideline for an 81-yard touchdown with 7:43 remaining in the third. Clayton Gill kicked the PAT to push the lead to 21-7.
Just when it looked like Northlake might be gaining control of the game, the host Hawks responded. This time, it was Ryan to Justin Wendt on a 29-yard left-to-right crossing pattern. Hannan went for 2, and the pass from Ryan to Ryan Hensarling was good and made the score 21-15 late in the third.
Northlake asserted itself when it needed to do so. They tacked on another score with 5:36 to go in the game when Riche’ rushed for an 18-yard touchdown.
Black scored again from 70 yards with 3:14 to play to seal the win.
Hensarling led Hannan (1-7, 0-4) with 120 yards on 23 carries.