OSSIAN – Norwell's surprising late-season run can be officially labeled a winning streak.
The Knights upset Homestead 28-26 on Friday at Norwell, taking their third-straight win after starting the season 0-5. It's the first three-game winning streak for Norwell football since 2009 and pulled the Knights even at 3-3 in Northeast Hoosier Conference play.
Why the turnaround? Credit the combination of a strong offensive leader in junior quarterback Piercen Harnish and a team effort where the big plays come from all directions and a number of players.
In beating Homestead for only the second time in the last seven seasons, the Knights' winning moves were everywhere:
* Harnish had some numbers. He rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown and completed 8-of-15 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. But his biggest play might have been when he barreled for 21 yards on a 2nd-and-15 at the Norwell 30 with 1:55 left. The play forced Homestead to use its last timeout and set up the Knights running out the clock.
* Junior receiver Nate Burrows maneuvered his way open in the end zone when Harnish was buying time to catch a 15-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.
* Senior running back Reid Jutte executed a fake reverse for a five-yard touchdown run that erased Homestead's only lead and put Norwell up 14-12 in the second quarter.
* Sophomore defensive end Hunter Ingle recovered a fumble that led to a Norwell drive and Harnish touchdown run to make it 21-12 in the third quarter. Another sophomore, cornerback Brody Myers, picked off a pass to thwart a Homestead drive.
*Junior receiver Reggie Hayes later got behind the defense and hauled in a Harnish pass for a 47-yard score and a 28-12 lead in the third. It was a similar Harnish-to-Hayes deep pass that helped beat East Noble to start the win streak.
* Junior defensive lineman Andrew Oakes teamed with Ingle to sack Homestead quarterback Logan Ormsby on fourth down on the Spartans' final possession when they had a chance for a win in the final three minutes.
* Junior safety Ashton McCune led the Knights with eight tackles and senior cornerback Wil Gerber had five. Harnish, Ingle, Oakes, senior Graham Stoppenhagen and sophomore Trevor Eichler all had a hand in sacks.
* Junior place kicker Graham Denney hit all four extra points and had a couple long kickoffs to help the Knights' cause. A missed extra point by Homestead left them attempting two-point conversions all game long. Denney had a punt blocked late that Homestead returned for a would-be score, but the Spartans were penalized for 12 men on the field. They later scored after Denney's subsequent punt, but the penalty cooled some momentum.
Norwell will end regular-season play next Friday at Columbia City (3-5, 2-4 NHC) while Homestead (5-3, 3-3) will play at New Haven (7-1, 5-1). Homestead has three losses in a season for the first time since 2005 and back-to-back losses for the first time since 2004.
Homestead was led Friday by Ormsby's 310 yards passing and two touchdowns, both to Ben Skowronek. Skowronek caught nine passes for 155 yards.