Noxon was in position to take over first place in the Western Division of Class C 6-man football last Friday night against visiting White Sulphur Springs, but the Hornets rallied from a late nine-point deficit to post a 32-27 win.
The Red Devils are 1-1 in the Western Division and host the Hot Springs Savage Heat this Friday at 7 p.m. Hot Springs is coming off a 50-18 win over West Yellowstone last week.
“They’re going to be another good test for us,” Noxon head coach Bart Haflich said of Hot Springs. “If we come out and play like we’re capable it’s (the win) going to be right there. It’s a big one for playoff positioning.”
NOXON LED WSS 27-18, but a couple of costly mistakes allowed the Hornets to take the lead — with just a minute remaining in the contest.
With an opportunity to put the game away, the Red Devils lost a fumble on a mishandled snap at the Hornets’ 3-yard-line on a third-and-goal play with three minutes left. WSS scored on the possession to take a five-point lead.
Noxon had little time to drive for a go-ahead score, and the Hornets intercepted a Red Devils pass with 40 seconds to play. A dropped pass also prevented Noxon from getting more points on the scoreboard.
“That would have salted the game away,” Noxon head coach Bart Haflich said. “We made some big mistakes down the stretch that we chalked up to experience. Hopefully, we’ll learn from them.
“We did a lot of good things as well. They (the Red Devils) competed and gave themselves a chance. But we let it slip away.”
WSS scored first on a 35-yard pass before Noxon took a 7-6 lead on a 53-yard scamper by senior Levi Brubaker and a conversion pass. However, the Hornets scored twice for an 18-7 advantage.
NOXON GOT some momentum when Levi Brubaker picked off a WSS pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the first half. His conversion kick got the Red Devils to within 18-15.
Noxon scored on touchdown runs of 15 and nine yards by freshman Cade VanVleet for a 27-18 lead early in the fourth quarter.
But WSS scored on a one-yard run by Will Collins and his conversion kick, and a 15-yard pass from Jack Galt to Collins for the difference on the scoreboard.
“We didn’t take care of the ball like we should have,” said Haflich, whose team had four turnovers.
Brubaker led the Noxon running game, finishing with more than 100 yards. VanVleet added 75 yards.
“We threw the ball fairly well,” Haflich said, as Noxon had about 150 yards in the air.
Junior middle linebacker Rylan Weltz led the Noxon defense in tackles, and senior Edison VanVleet was next in that category. Haflich said freshman Brody Hill had a couple of good passes defended.