Dawson Ewers and Connor Dulmage each intercepted a pass by Northview quarterback D.J. Pearson, and both returned their picks for touchdowns on plays that made the difference in the game.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Northview (3-3, 1-1) trailed by seven and was driving. But Creekview’s Logan Ridings drove Pearson back for a 20-yard loss on third down.
On fourth down, and the Titans’ final chance to tie the game, the Grizzlies (4-2, 2-0) allowed just a 5-yard gain before taking over on downs.
Creekview ended the game in victory formation, sealing the win that seemingly put it into the drivers’ seat of Region 7AAAAA’s northern half. The Grizzlies have three subregion games left, against teams that have a combined four wins.
Dulmage scored three touchdowns on the night, with two coming in the fourth quarter. Still, he said the biggest play of the game was holding Northview in the waning seconds.
“For the whole team, that was a big step for our defense,” Dulmage said. “That was the best play of the game.”
Less than a minute into the fourth, Creekview quarterback Kyle Wilkie connected with Dulmage inside the 5. The receiver then broke a pair of tackles and spun up the sideline and into the end zone.
Then, 3 minutes later, Dulmage interrupted what appeared to be a promising drive by the Titans. The linebacker intercepted Pearson’s pass on the 46-yard line and cut through the middle of the field. He looked as if he would be tackled near the 10-yard line, but he made a move past the defenders and into the end zone.
Dulmage, who finished the game with four catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns, said his trip to the end zone on defense was the most memorable.
“I always like to score on defense,” he said. “That is always my favorite.”
Creekview coach Terry Crowder said the pair of interceptions made the difference in the game.
“We were having so hard of a time moving the ball, so to have the defense come through twice and score for us was huge,” Crowder said.
Creekview struck first, using the interception by Ewers and 25-yard return to get on the board minutes into the game.
Pearson, however, tied game up on Northview’s next possession when he connected with Matty Biondich for a 26-yard touchdown.
Isaiah Rodgers scored the first touchdown for the Grizzlies’ offense on a 3-yard run, which capped a 74-yard drive midway through the second quarter.
However, once more, Northview was quick to answer. This time, it evened the score on a 1-yard run by Nathan Phillips.
Creekview was able to take a 21-14 lead into halftime thanks to a show by Dulmage. The senior returned the Titans’ kickoff more than 50 yards to give the Grizzlies possession on the Northview 30.
After a pair of runs by Rodgers totaled 14 yards, Wilkie found Dulmage in the end zone for the 18-yard touchdown.
As the crowd was chanting “Con-nor Dul-mage,” kicker Ben McClellan calmly kicked the extra point and made the score 21-14 with 3 minutes left in the first half.
Northview evened the score again midway through the third. The Titans put the ball in the air more in the second half, but they ultimately returned to Phillips, who ran the ball in from 2 yards out.
After the two scores by Dulmage, Northview added another touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Pearson to a wide-open Phillips with 4:22 remaining. The Titans’ defense forced Creekview to punt the ball away, only to have the potential game-tying drive derailed by Dulmage, Ridings and Austin Murphy.
Wilkie was held to an 8-for-26 passing night, for 123 yards. Rodgers led the Grizzlies in rushing with 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
Northview’s totaled just 31 rushing yards, thanks in part to losses of more than 10 yards on three occasions.
Pearson was 33-for-53 passing for 362 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns.
Crowder said the game wasn’t pretty, but the win still counts.
“Mentally, we weren’t into it,” Crowder said. “We weren’t concentrating like we should. It almost came back to bit us. Northview is a really good football team. Every win is a win. It doesn’t matter how you get that ‘W,’ as long as you get that ‘W.’”