BY SCOTT ANDERSON, Journal Sports
BLANCHARD — Northwood dominated all aspects of the game Friday and rolled to a 35-9 victory against St. Paul’s of Covington in the second round of the LHSAA Division I Select playoffs at Jerry Burton Memorial Stadium.
“I was very impressed by the defense and their tackling,” Northwood head coach Austin Brown said. “I can’t say enough about the defense. Offensively, we played smart. We had a couple of turnovers, but we were able to make enough plays to win the game.”
Senior quarterback Mason Welch made the first of those plays right out of the chute, charging past the No. 12 seed Wolves’ defense en route to a 70-yard touchdown run on the No. 5 seed Falcons’ first play from scrimmage.
“That felt good,” Welch said. “Coming out of the gate, I knew part of the game plan was I was going to have to run the ball. I took my preparation this week to get mentally right to run the ball. From the get-go, I had a crease, the receivers blocked well down the field, and you just have to make something happen.”
Senior Taderius Collins led the Falcon (9-2) defense that stuffed the Wolves’ (7-5) running game in the backfield much of the night.
“Something that doesn’t stand out on the stat sheet is that he was physically dominant,” Brown said of Collins. “Being double-teamed and triple-teamed all night, he was still in the backfield. Any time they tried to chip on him with a running back or a fullback, they wound up on their butt. It’s those types of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet, but when you’ve got to add an extra player to try to contain him, it takes away from your total offense.”
Collins also added a spark on special teams. When the Wolves faced fourth-and-4 on the Falcons’ 48-yard line, Collins blocked the punt, then scooped up the loose ball and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
Northwood led 21-6 with 8:53 left in the third quarter.
“It was awesome,” Collins said. “I haven’t been in the end zone since freshman year. It was great to get that and capitalize for my team. I was determined to make that play and just went in from there.”
Brown praised seniors after the game for their leadership.
“(Collins) is the literal definition of a game-changer,” he said. “He’s going to change what an offense does. This is like (Welch’s) sixth or seventh playoff game. That isn’t anything new for him. He’s a consummate professional, a consummate leader. He set the tone and had a tough 124 yards rushing tonight.”
It’s a trend he has seen in his players as the season has progressed.
“All offseason people patted us on the back and told us how great we were,” Brown said. “In Week 1, we got humbled. Then nobody told us we were great. We had to keep believing. The heart and character of the team has shown out these last few weeks.”
Northwood advances to play Brother Martin next Friday in the quarterfinal round.
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Northwood 35, St. Paul’s 9
Score by quarters
Northwood | 7 | 7 | 7 | 14 | — 35
St. Paul’s | 3 | 3 | 3 | 0 | — 9
N — Mason Welch 70 run (PAT good)
SP — Drew Talley 38 FG
N — Mar’Javious Moss 14 run (PAT good)
SP — Talley 21 FG
N — Taderious Collins 20 blocked punt return (PAT good)
SP — Talley 23 FG
N — Marc Dennison 6 pass from Welch (PAT good)
N — Welch 4 run (PAT good)
St. Paul’s — Jacob Davies 2-96.
Northwood — Mason Welch 10-124, Mar’Javious Moss 8-69.
St. Paul’s — Brennan Keim 9-24-0, 116 yards.
Northwood — Mason Welch 9-14-0, 121 yards, TD.
St. Paul’s – Roman Cumberland 4-50.
Northwood – Marc Dennison 4-30, TD.