KENDALLVILLE — Two long kickoff returns put across one touchdown and set up another, plus a pick-six in the final period spurred East Noble to a 34-7 victory over Bellmont Friday night in a game that saw the Braves out-gain the host Knights.
"People are going to see the score and think I'm nuts, but we played East Noble pretty tough. One of the things we worried about coming in was our defense being able to compete, and they did that," stated Bellmont coach Larry Getts, whose Braves slipped to 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the rugged NHC.
East Noble improved to 7-2 and 5-2 in the NHC, finishing in a tie for second place with Carroll. A loss to Norwell ending up costing Luke Amstutz's squad part of the NHC crown, won outright Friday night for the first time ever by New Haven.
Brandon Mable, who took the opening kickoff and raced 80 yards for a stunning touchdown, paced the Knights with four touchdowns and 102 yards on 15 carries.
However, East Noble managed just 11 first downs to the 15 of Bellmont, and compiled 234 yards to the 262 of the Braves. Bellmont had the ball nearly 32 of the 48 minutes.
"The kicking game cost us twice, the interception return and the fumble we had after faking the punt and getting the first down, those were the costly things that added up to the big score by East Noble," said Getts.
After Bellmont had made it 14-7 with an impressive, nine-play, 63-yard, second-period drive, Grey Fox snatch a short BHS kick near the right sideline at the E. Noble 32-yard line. He ran toward the middle of the field, but was forced inside, then barrelled through the defense, shook loose and was finally tackled at the Bellmont nine-yard line by Josh Brune.
Marble carried three straight times for the score.
The second East Noble touchdown was fueled by a 54-yard gain by Grey Fox on a short shovel pass. He was tackled at the two-yard line by John Sefton. Mable scored on the next play. However, that possession was set up by a fourth down fumble as the Braves faked a punt and ran for the first down, only to give the ball back to the Knights.
Bellmont had strong movement up front on their second-period TD march. Mason Shinabery broke up the middle for 10 yards to start the march, then Trevor Love took a direct snap and roared nine yards. Chase Ellsworth ran for seven, then handed off to Love on a 13-yard gain. QB Jordan Amacker hit Love on a quick toss left on a 12-yard gain to the Noible 11-yard line.
Love ran for two yards and Ellsworth scored on a power play up the middle, getting to the end zone on a third and fourth effort.
After a Bellmont drive stalled in period three with a pass interception in the end zone, East Noble was stopped. On Bellmont's ensuing effort, the Knights scored when Mark Salazar picked off a third-down pass from Amacker and raced 41 yards down the left sideline to score the fourth East Noble touchdown.