The stakes on Thursday night couldn't have been higher. Adding to what was already a pretty bitter rivalry, the winner between Phillipsburg and Norton Community would be in the playoffs, the loser done for the season. Pretty high stakes for teams that entered the night 7-1 and 6-2 respectively.
The Bluejays would get on the board first on a six-yard touchdown run by Tanner Furbush. It was 7-0 Norton after one quarter.
The Jays would lead 14-0 at the half thanks to an 84-yard touchdown run by Jacob Brooks and then as time expired at the half, Justin Juenemann missed a field goal for the Panthers.
Phillipsburg tried some trickery to start the third quarter, but after Sean Newlan pitched to Seth Derr, Derr was under pressure and he threw the ball up for grabs. Norton's Travis Rossi intercepted it, giving the Jays good field position.
Norton would score again on an 11-yard run by Brooks. They would go for two and miss to make the score 20-0.
Phillipsburg would finally get on the board when Newlan broke free for a 49-yard touchdown scamper, and recovered the ensuing onside kick. But the Panther drive would stall at midfield.
Neither team would score in the forth quarter, making it a 20-7 final in Norton's favor.
"Our kids wanted this game so bad, this is a big rivalry for us," said Norton head coach Lucas Melvin. "They wanted to be in the playoffs and they new if they won the game they were in the playoffs and that was enough motivation for these guys."
The Jays improve to 7-2, they will face Salina Sacred Heart in Tuesday's playoff opener.
Phillipsburg's season comes to a close with the Panthers also posting a 7-2 record.