MIDDLEBURY — Northridge's best offense came from its defense in Friday's 22-8 Northern Lakes Conference football win over Elkhart Memorial.
The Raiders' defense was reponsible for 16 points, scoring on two interception returns and a safety.
"I bet we had more yards on our (interception) return yards," Northridge football coach Tom Wogomon said. "Shoot, maybe we should think about punting the ball away and letting our defense score points for us."
In the first quarter, a Memorial fumble was eventually recovered by Crimson Charger running back Mark Brownlee, but when he got control of the ball, Northridge's Conner Graber was there to tackle him in the end zone.
The Raiders' first interception return for a touchdown halted Memorial's best drive of the game. The Chargers drove 64 yards on nine plays before Northridge's Connor Utley picked off a pass and scampered 95 yards for a score with 4:24 left in the third quarter.
Northridge (2-7, 2-5) expanded its lead to 22-0 after Kyle Carson returned an interception 30 yards for a score with 8:59 left in the game.
"Great job," Wogomon said about his team's defense. "Utley made that pick when the game was about to get really tight. He had a great jump on the ball and that was a nice return. He kind of sat on that thing and got a great read on it. We made some good blocks downfield.
"Kyle (Carson) physically ripped the ball out of the kids' hands. I told him that I didn't know that he had the physicality to do that."
Memorial (2-7, 0-7) didn't score until 2:25 left when Nathan Williams completed a 5-yard scoring pass to JaShawn Echols-Adell.
Northridge's Josh Schlabach recovered the onside the kick and the Raiders ran out the clock.
Memorial was held to 10 yards and two first downs in the first half.
"We're not very good," Memorial coach Scot Shaw said. "We make too many mistakes and we couldn't block a soul tonight. Nathan, bless his heart, had about five or six guys hanging on him every time he dropped back to throw."
Behind their running game, the Chargers did a better job of generating offense in the second half. Memorial rushed for 126 yards over the final 24 minutes. Brownlee, who totaled 85 yards on 16 carries, rushed for 82 of those on 13 in the second half.
"We just challenged them at halftime," Shaw said. "We wanted to run the ball. We gave up two touchdowns on our passing plays. We just can't do that. On one, the (receiver) slipped and on the other, the kid took it away from him.
"We're playing a lot of new guys and they don't get it yet. We've just got to play harder. You wouldn't think you'd have to say that in your ninth game of the year."
Northridge got 73 yards rushing on 17 carries from Conner Graber, who also had two sacks defensively.
NORTHRIDGE 22, ELKHART MEMORIAL 8
Scoring By Quarters
N — Safety (Mark Brownlee tackled in end zone by Conner Graber); 3:08
N — Julius Graber 6 run; kick failed; :00
N — Connor Utley 95 interception return; Camm Nickell kick; 4:24
N — Kyle Carson 30 interception return; Nickell kick; 8:59
E — JaShawn Echols-Adell 5 pass from Nathan Williams; Williams run; 2:25
Memorial: Rushing — Mark Brownlee 16-85, Austin Scott 8-34. Passing — Nathan Williams 7-18-61 (2 int.). Receiving — Nolan Grose 4-42. Interceptions — Andrew Goodman.
Northridge: Rushing — Conner Graber 17-73, Julius Graber 12-40. Passing — Julius Graber 5-7-42 (0 int.), Nick Hooley 2-4-14 (1 int.). Receiving — Brad Schwartz 3-21, Connor Utley 2-24. Interceptions — Utley, Carson.