Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
As the ball hit the turf on 4th and 6 for Armwood, the Miami Northwestern faithful erupted and came to the realization that they were state champions once again.
“I’m happy for the fans, I’m happy for the school,” said Head Coach Max Edwards as the alma mater was sung proudly in the background. “Our kids played hard all year. We had obstacles put in front of us and Bull nation showed up tonight and the kids played for them. There wasn’t one game in these playoffs that it didn’t come down to the wire. That shows the character in these kids and believing in each other.”
Time after time in these playoffs the Northwestern defense was called upon to make stops late and stood strong in the most critical of times. This is Northwestern’s 5th state title and the first in 10 years.
“We haven’t been here in 10 years and It feels good,” said quarterback Chatarius Atwell. “We just finished strong and helped each other up and now we’re state champs.”
It was a tale of two quarters in the first half.
Armwood was able to benefit from Northwestern’s mistakes early. A mishandled punt from the Bulls 6 yard line was fumbled out of the endzone for a safety for Armwood. On the ensuing possession, Armwood would line up for a field goal attempt. The kick would sail through the uprights but the points would be taken off the board on a roughing the kicker penalty. Oregon commit Warren Thompson extended the lead for the Hawks with a touchdown catch that was bobbled initially and then controlled for the score.
Armwood – 9 Northwestern – 0 End of 1st quarter
Northwestern was able to capitalize on a mishandled punt in which they would tackle the punter in the endzone for a safety. On the ensuing possession, the Bulls were able to get into the endzone with a Davonne “Bo” Kendrick 12-yard touchdown rush with 3:09 remaining in the half.
Northwestern – 9 Armwood – 9 halftime
It was a tale of two quarterbacks in the second half.
In comes the Chatarius “TuTu” Atwell show. The Louisville commit seemed to nearly be sacked in the backfield before regaining his balance, bouncing off a defender, spinning around and sprinting for 51 yards for a touchdown. The electrifying play ignited a strong Northwestern showing of fans supporting the boys from Liberty City. Atwell followed that up with a 46-yard pass to Kiaryn Davis to extend the Bulls lead after a missed extra point.
“I was scrambling and a defender was coming hard trying to smack me,” said Atwell. “So I had to spin and kept going.”
Northwestern 21 – Armwood – 9 End of 3rd quarter
In comes the Devin Black show. Mid-4th quarter, the Indiana commit escapes defenders and is able to run into the endzone on an eleven yard touchdown run. Extra point made. Both senior quarterbacks coming up big when there team needed them the most on the game’s biggest stage.
Armwood – 21 Northwestern – 16 4th quarter
Northwestern failed to convert on a 4th and 1 and trusted their defense to pull out not just a game, but a championship with under a minute left. They were able to shut down five star recruit and Ohio State commit Brian Snead to 49 yards on 19 carries.
“I knew if it came down to [our defense] I knew were going to come through,” said Coach Edwards.
Over 5,000 fans were attendance for the 6A state championship game with the vast majority cheering for the Miami Northwestern Bulls who will ride home champions once again.