OSSIAN – Norwell football coach Jeff Miller, like most coaches, frowns on halftime celebrations. But he let a little bit of exhilaration slide Friday night.
“I thought our kids were a little too excited at the half, but we haven't been in that position,” Miller said. “I didn't stifle their excitement but I was a little worried because we had a second half to play against a very good East Noble team.”
Miller's worries were unfounded. Norwell, winless entering the game, delivered an even better second half. Norwell upset East Noble 35-7 on Friday at Norwell, pitching a shutout in the second half after staking a 14-7 halftime lead.
The win snapped a 26-game regular-season losing streak for Norwell (the Knights had a forfeit win in 2011 and won two sectional games last season). Norwell set season bests for most points scored and fewest allowed. The 35 points were Norwell's most since a 35-0 win over Heritage in 2010.
Norwell improved to 1-5 (1-3 Northeast Hoosier Conference). East Noble fell to 4-2 (2-2 NHC) and likely slipped out of the NHC title chase.
It was quite a turnaround for Norwell from Sept. 6, when the Knights lost 70-15 at Carroll. East Noble beat Carroll 27-7 last week.
Norwell had 326 yards rushing and 129 yards passing against East Noble.
“I think the seniors were getting a little tired of losing,” senior Reid Jutte said. “Everybody came out and played and we brought it the first half and everybody was psyched. And then we brought it out the second half and kept playing.”
Norwell's offense set the tone with a number of lengthy drives. The Knights drove 80 yards on 11 plays, with junior quarterback Piercen Harnish hitting junior wide receiver Reggie Hayes for a 20-yard score and a 7-0 lead to open the second quarter. It was Norwell's first lead of the season.
“We got that first score and that really got us going,” Jutte said.
East Noble tied the score 7-7 on its own 80-yard drive, with Walker Boyles scoring on an eight-yard run.
Norwell answered late in the second quarter, with Harnish hitting Hayes again on a 62-yard scoring play. The Knights then had one of their biggest defensive plays when Jutte picked off a pass by East Noble quarterback Harold Wolfe at the 5-yard line.
The Knights' defense kept East Noble out of the end zone from that point on, bending a bit but never breaking. Sophomore cornerback Brody Myers had a key interception in the second half.
Norwell's offense scored on second-half drives of 81, 89 and 91 yards. Harnish scored on a one-yard run, Jutte sprinted 58 yards for a score and senior running back William Gerber put the final score on the board with a 61-yard run.
Harnish rushed for 96 yards and passed for 129. Jutte ran for 84 yards, Adam Nahrwold for 74 and Gerber 72. Hayes caught four passes for 109 yards.
Miller credited his team with putting together a complete game in all aspects. The Knights committed no turnovers for the first time this season. Norwell plays at winless DeKalb next Friday while East Noble plays at Columbia City.
“That's a team that beat Carroll, and Carroll smoked us,” Jutte said of East Noble. “We came out the second half and just tried to bring it and keep hitting them.”