BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — As a pass from Bishop LeBlond’s freshman quarterback Landon Gardner flew through the air with the final seconds trickling off the clock, North-West Nodaway was about to do something it hadn’t done all year.
Musket senior defensive back Tyler Bix leaped in front of the Eagles’ intended target and secured the Muskets' first win of the year. North-West Nodaway was able to pull off a 58-52 back-and-forth homecoming win over the Eagles thanks to junior quarterback Karson Oberhauser’s seven touchdown performance.
“I’m on cloud nine,” coach Anthony Christian said. “This is a great feeling. We’ve been fighting all year for our first win, trying to get that winning attitude that we’re not used to. This was a very good, hard-fought game. Bishop LeBlond pushed us to the limit.”
As Bix came down with the ball in the endzone, icing the game for North-West, Oberhauser said the sight brought him pure joy.”
“It just feels great,” Oberhauser said. “It was just a big relief off our shoulders. We have a great team. We spent all summer in the weight room working for this and it paid off.”
The Muskets wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they won the toss and elected to receive. A few plays later, North-West found itself in the red zone and 5:28 into the first quarter, Oberhauser punched in the first touchdown of the night.
On LeBlond’s first drive, Bix was able to intercept a Gardner pass and set up another Musket scoring drive to put North-West up 14-0 after a successful two-point conversion.
“I think that’s what helped us right there,” Christian said. “That first touchdown spoke wonders. It got the wind under our sails and we were on cloud nine flying all the way. We didn’t let small little penalties or big penalties affect us and we kept on fighting.”
Oberhauser found the endzone on the next drive to already account for three touchdowns before the Eagles scored a point. The Muskets took a 20-0 lead, but LeBlond would soon respond.
After a rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Reggie Love put the Eagles on the board for the first time, LeBlond forced North-West to punt on the following drive and senior Hunter Heck returned the punt for a touchdown to make the score 20-14.
The Eagles added another touchdown to tie the game 20-20 but before the first half would expire, Oberhauser found the endzone again, retaking the lead 28-20.
“Carson is an unspoken leader of our team,” Christian said. “He reads a hole, he makes a pass, he does everything. He’s able to pull that ball when he needs to. He, by far, did awesome today. Him with Bird and everyone. Our receivers stepped up. Our linemen really stepped up this game compared to others.”
The second half was full of scoring as the two teams combined for 62 points.
Gardner opened up the scoring for LeBlond with a nine-yard touchdown run but the Muskets would respond with a touchdown of their own from senior running back Austin Bird, making the score 36-26.
With the third-quarter clock winding down, the Eagles were able to get a hand on a punt and recover it in the endzone to narrow the lead to 36-32. After a stalled North-West drive, LeBlond took its first lead of the night with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to senior wide receiver Billy Wise.
This was the first of six lead changes in the final 8:21 of the game.
Oberhauser scored his fifth touchdown with a nine-yard run to take the lead for the Muskets, then Heck took a carry 25 yards to the endzone to take a 46-42 lead with a little over six minutes left in the game.
Once again faced with a deficit, Oberhauser took a busted play 62 yards for a score and a two-point conversion made the score 50-46.
“That was a big, big confidence booster for the whole team,” Oberhauser said.
Naturally, LeBlond answered on its next drive but it didn’t matter because Oberhauser found the endzone once again for North-West for his seventh and final score of the game to give the Muskets a 58-52 lead with 40 seconds left in the game.
Faced with a tall task, LeBlond was able to drive inside the 10-yard line where a false start and a sack doomed its drive to fourth and goal on the 15-yard line.
The Eagles‘ desperation heave to the endzone was seized by Bix for his second — but most important — interception of the night.
“It’s such a great feeling,” Oberhauser said about watching Bix intercept the ball. “We’ve been wanting this for a while and we’ve been winless for a long time and it feels good to get that win.”
Even though LeBlond outscored the Muskets 32-30 in the second half, the early lead proved to be the difference in North-West’s initial win.
“This was huge,” Christian said. “Homecoming, at our home field, our first win. It was a great feeling. It was well deserved for our guys.”
Friday’s homecoming victory was the Muskets' first win since Sept. 22, 2017, when they beat DeKalb 42-12 and first home win since Sept. 23, 2016, where they also beat DeKalb 52-0.
“We’ve got heart,” Christian said about his team. “We’ve got dedication. Our whole theme this week was ‘you can talk the talk, can you walk the walk.’ I think we proved we can walk the walk a little bit.”