By ADAM KROEMER
Northridge had the upper hand in opening a 12-0 lead in the first half against Elkhart Memorial Friday.
But the second half belonged to the Crimson Chargers, as they took advantage of five second-half Raider turnovers to rally past the Raiders, 14-12.
It was Elkhart Memorial’s first win of the year, as they concluded the regular season 1-8 overall and 1-7 in the Northern Lakes Conference. Northridge finished 1-8, 0-7 in the NLC.
Northridge drove 64 yards in six plays midway through the first quarter to open the scoring. Quarterback Tanner Love connected with Jailyn Rolle on a 25-yard pass completion, and three plays later, running back Craig Kasten reached the endzone on a 15-yard run, giving the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders doubled the lead with eight minutes left in the first half, when Travis Schlabach fielded a punt and outraced the coverage 79 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, and Northridge held a 12-0 lead.
Northridge reached Elkhart Memorial territory and two other possessions in the second quarter, but couldn’t pad the lead.
“We missed some scoring opportunities in the first half, and those are the things that come back and bite you,” said Northridge coach Johnathan Kirkton. “You figured Elkhart Memorial would come back.
Elkhart Memorial got on the board with a big play, as speedy receiver Dimetri Chatman caught a seam pass from Blake Kramer and broke free for a 56-yard touchdown, slicing Northridge’s lead to 12-7.
It would get no better for the Raiders, as the Crimson Chargers put together an 11-play drive to take the lead. Kane Rickey scored on a 15-yard run, and the extra point pushed Elkhart Memorial in front, 14-12.
Northridge then fumbled the ensuing kickoff away, one of four fourth-quarter turnovers that the Raiders had.
“We turned the ball over too much in the second half, and our defense was on the field way too long,” said Kirkton.
Northridge had one final opportunity after Elkhart Memorial had field goal attempts sail wide on successive possessions. But Elkhart Memorial sealed the win with a late interception.
Kasten rushed for 60 yards to lead the Raiders, while Chatman corralled 12 passes for 123 yards to lead Elkhart Memorial.
Northridge will host Angola in the first round of the sectional Friday.