LIGONIER – Circled. Bolded. Red-lettered. However you want to say it, West Noble’s senior class remembered a 51-point home loss to Angola in 2017, then took out those frustrations in a 41-27 Northeast Corner Conference big-school division victory over the Hornets Friday in Ligonier.
“We’ve been preparing for this,” said West Noble senior running back Brandon Pruitt, who ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns. “We know they have some big guys, and we had to get to the outside. We have some speed, and everyone worked really hard this week.”
Head coaches usually craft inspirational speeches for important matchups. As West Noble coach Monte Mawhorter explained, he had no need for such words this time around.
“I think the kids that said they were going to do this stepped forward and did it,” Mawhorter said. “(Josh Gross) stepped up huge tonight. We were getting hurt on our weak side, and he stepped into a spot he hadn’t played all year and they didn’t move the ball anymore tonight.
“Offensively, if you watch (Gross) block, I don’t see how you don’t take that kid. He was putting (Angola defensive back and Purdue recruit Ryan Brandt) on his (butt).”
In a game featuring four lead changes, West Noble (4-0, 1-0 NECC) battled Angola (0-4, 0-1) to a 27-all tie after three quarters. But after a 1-yard Brandt run around the left side put the visitors up 27-19, the Chargers rallied for the contest’s final three scores.
West Noble quarterback Kyle Mawhorter capped the hosts’ response, scrambling on fourth-and-goal from the Angola 5. With all his receivers covered, Mawhorter found an opening and ran untouched into the end zone. Pruitt’s conversion run tied the game at 27 with 1:19 left in the third quarter, setting up the hosts’ surge.
Gross’ 30-yard run with 3:09 remaining put West Noble up 34-27, and Pruitt’s final carry of the night, a 2-yard plunge, finished in the end zone for the game’s final tally.
The Chargers’ victory snapped Angola’s four-game streak in the series, marking just the third time West Noble has defeated the Hornets since 2000 and the Chargers’ first 4-0 start since 1981.
“This really hurts,” Angola coach Andy Thomas said. “Hats off to West Noble. It’s very important to them. We’ve been successful against them but I’m happy for them, for their players and their coaches.”
Raven Slone also ran for a touchdown for West Noble, which notched six scores – all via rushing.
Finley Hasselman gained an even 100 yards on 13 carries to lead Angola, while Brandt added 91 rushing
While West Noble climbed over a massive hurdle Friday in knocking off a squad coming off two straight unbeaten seasons and two straight sectional championships, Pruitt noted that there’s no time to bask in the glow of this victory.
“To take that next step, we (had) to beat Angola,” Pruitt said. “This makes you a great football team compared to a good football team. We can’t take anyone for granted. These guys are good, but to think that anyone else is going to lay down and give it to us is a stupid statement.”