MIDDLEBURY – When seeing his Class 4A, No. 6 Leo squad drawn to play at Northridge, Lions coach Jared Sauder figured the matchup would feature plenty of defensive prowess.
Consider those expectations met, as Leo gutted out a 14-7 victory at Interra Field on Friday.
With the win, the Lions (9-1) earned a home semifinal matchup against NorthWood, which defeated Wawasee 20-7.
“They just did a great job battling,” Sauder said. “Defenses on both sides, they just played their hearts out. We got some fortunate breaks.”
The Lions defense got its number called early thanks to fumbles on Leo's first two possessions. Northridge would capitalize with senior quarterback Logan Hooley locating the end zone with 2:52 to go in the first quarter.
With the Raiders bottling up Leo offensively, a couple tweaks out of intermission paid dividends on the scoreboard. A 39-yard pass from Leo's Jackson Barbour to Damian Gudakunst set up a 10-yard reverse by Rylan Crawford that tied the game at 7-7 with 5:07 left in the third.
And Crawford would strike again, as his 46-yard punt return early in the fourth set the Lions up inside the Northridge 25. Tanner Jackson, who carried the ball just 25 times in the regular season, would cap Leo's ensuing drive with a 3-yard plunge to give the visitors a 14-7 lead with 3:38 remaining.
“We all kept our heads up, but we fought through and we're moving on,” Crawford said. “Our defense was there to really help us and keep us alive in this game. We said the defense was going to win this.”
DEKALB 7, ANGOLA 0: In Waterloo, Corey Price's 38-yard touchdown reception from Tegan Irk accounted for the game's lone score, propelling the Barons (2-5) to revenge from a 55-18 defeat at the hands of the Hornets in the season's opening week. DeKalb will host East Noble in semifinal action.
SOUTH SIDE 30, NEW HAVEN 20: At Weicker Stadium, Javonte Malone ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns as the Archers (2-8) knocked off the Bulldogs (5-5), who lost for the first time outside of NE8 play this season despite 160 passing yards from Jakar Williams. South Side will travel to Marion after the Giants defeated Mississinewa, 49-28.
WAYNE 12, HUNTINGTON NORTH 8: At Wayne Stadium, the Generals (2-8) intercepted Vikings quarterback Reid Johnson three times as Caldijuan Mitchell finished with 10 total tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Aden Dennis ran for 102 yards for Huntington North (3-7). Wayne will now face Delta (7-2), which trounced Jay County 48-0.
JIMTOWN 26, GARRETT 3: In Garrett, the Jimmies held the hosts to just 164 offensive yards. Kolin Cope ran for 77 yards for the Railroaders (3-6).
WEST NOBLE 14, JOHN GLENN 0: In Ligonier, the Chargers won their second straight game after starting 0-8, stunning the Falcons who dropped to 4-6. West Noble (2-8) now plays at Jimtown. The other sectional semifinal will feature unbeaten and second-ranked Mishawaka Marian, which handled Lakeland, 40-6, at Tippecanoe Valley.
OAK HILL 28, BELLMONT 0: In Decatur, Oak Hill kept the Braves winless on the year, advancing to play Concordia in one semifinal. Maconaquah improved to 5-3 by defeating Northwestern 43-0, and awaits the results of tonight's Heritage-Norwell contest that will determine the other semifinal matchup.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS 18, WOODLAN 8: In Brushy Prairie, the Panthers snapped an 11-game losing streak, as the Warriors bowed out of the postseason at 1-9. Prairie Heights will now play at Eastside in the sectional semifinals.
BISHOP LUERS 56, WHITKO 7: At Luersfield, the Knights used a 491-162 advantage in offensive yardage to knock off Whitko (4-6), which concluded its best season since a seven-win campaign in 2016. Carson Clark completed 11 of 15 passes for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Luers (4-6), which will play at unbeaten Fairfield in the sectional semifinals.
FAIRFIELD 38, CENTRAL NOBLE 12: In Benton, the Falcons improved to 9-0 and defeated the Cougars for the second time this season. On Sept. 4, Fairfield won at Central Noble, 32-6. Clayton Kirkpatrick scored two rushing touchdowns for the Cougars (5-6).
SOUTH ADAMS 41, UNION CITY 0: In Berne, the Starfires showed little rust coming off a bye week to end the regular season, getting four first-half touchdown passes from James Arnold and earning the right to play Tri-Central, a 30-28 winner at Wes-Del, in one semifinal. Madison-Grant (2-5) will play Monroe Central (7-1), which defeated Taylor 72-0, in the other semifinal.
TRITON 24, CHURUBUSCO 14: In Bourbon, the Trojans earned the home victory by scoring the game's first 24 points. Triton improved to 4-5, while Churubusco concluded its season at 4-4.
ADAMS CENTRAL 39, FREMONT 6: In Fremont, Nick Neuenschwander scored two touchdowns as the Flying Jets improved to 7-2 and set up home game against Triton in the sectional semifinals. In the other semifinal, Caston (3-7), a 34-28 winner over North Miami, will play at No. 3 and unbeaten Southwood (10-0), which defeated Northfield, 36-0.