MIDDLEBURY — Mishawaka sent an emphatic message Friday at Interra Field at Raider Stadium.
With a 41-21 win against Northridge, the Cavemen said they still want a share of the Northern Lakes Conference championship.
Though it was the final week of the 2020 regular season, Mishawaka (5-3, 5-1) can share the NLC crown with Warsaw (35-17 winners against Concord on Friday to go 7-2 and 6-1) by winning at conference foe Goshen in the first round of the Class 5A sectional Oct. 30.
Because of COVID-19, the Cavemen did not get to play the RedHawks during the regular slate.
Northridge, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A by the Indiana Football Coaches Association and No. 11 by Associated Press, fell to 6-2 and 5-2.
Mishawaka quarterback Justin Fisher ran for 297 yards and five touchdowns and passed for another.
The Cavemen’s 21-play drive that ate up 11 minutes and 6 seconds of clock put the visitors ahead 35-14 with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter. Fisher dived into the end zone from the Northridge 1 and Connor George tacked on the extra point.
The Raiders cut the gap to 35-21 with a 30-yard TD pass from Logan Hooley to Breckin Judd with 1:41 remaining in the contest.
After recovering an onside kick by Northridge and returning it deep into Raider territory, the Cavemen capped the scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Fisher to fullback Drew Mason to go ahead 41-21 with 1:15 to play.
“He’s pretty good,” said Mishawaka coach Keith Kinder. “But he’s got as good a group of lineman as we’ve ever had in my time at Mishawaka as an assistant or the head coach.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”
Northridge coach Tom Wogomon saw his defense struggle against Mishawaka’s flexbone attack.
“We failed to answer twice this year,” said Wogomon. “Warsaw runs a similar offense. We didn’t come up with answers that we need to.
“That’s a great duo (in Fisher and Mason). (Fisher) runs that offense really efficiently. We gave up a highlight-tape (first) half.”
Mishawaka gained 327 of its 438 ground yards in the first two periods — 258 by Fisher — and led 28-14 at halftime.
Fisher sprinted 73 yards for a TD and then a conversion run with 3:39 remaining in the second quarter.
That drive came as a response to a Northridge scoring drive.
After a muffed punt snap back to the Mishawaka 27, Dominic Crowder bulled into the end zone on the first snap for the Raiders and Carter Stoltzfus booted the extra point to pull Northridge within 20-14 with 4:00 left in the second quarter.
A 17-yard TD run by Raider quarterback Hooley and a Stoltzfus kick at 6:42 of the second period got Northridge within 20-7.
Fisher dashed for a 67-yard TD run at 10:22 of the second quarter for a 20-0 Mishawaka lead.
It was a 14-yard Fisher scoring run and Fisher conversion run that gave the Cavemen a 14-0 advantage at 3:35 of the first quarter.
The game’s first play from scrimmage was an 80-yard TD run by Fisher at 11:45 of the first quarter. The 2-point run attempt failed.
IHSAA sectional play is slated to begin Oct. 23 for the bottom four classes. Leo visits Northridge in 4A.
MISHAWAKA 41, NORTHRIDGE 21
Mishawaka 14 14 0 13 —41
Northridge 0 14 0 7 — 21
M— (11:45) Justin Fisher 80 run run failed.
M— (3:35) Fisher 14 run Fisher run.
M — (10:22) Fisher 67 run kick failed.
N — (6:42) Logan Hooley 17 run Carter Stoltzfus kick.
N — (4:00) Dominic Crowder 27 run Stoltzfus kick.
M — (3:39 Fisher 73 run Fisher run.
M — (7:25) Fisher 1 run Connor George kick.
N — (1:15) Breckin Judd 30 pass from Hooley Stoltzfus kick.
M — (1:41) Drew Mason 9 pass from Fisher kick failed.