NAPPANEE – The NorthWood football team sent a big message to the rest of the Northern Lakes Conference Friday night.
The Panthers exploded in an offensive showcase in outscoring defending league champion Concord 50-32 in the NLC opener at Andrews Field.
NorthWood rolled up 623 yards of total offense as the Class 4-A No. 6 Panthers remained undefeated. Concord, ranked No. 8 in Class 5-A, drops to 2-1.
NorthWood entered the game averaging 50 points-per-outing and another “average” game earned the Panthers the big time win.
Panther quarterback Trey Bilinski went 11-15 passing for 326 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for another score. De’Andre Smart had four receptions for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Panthers. Payton Baer had 128 yards rushing and two more scores for the winners.
Concord, which beat NorthWood 19-0 last season en route to going 7-0 to win the NLC title, trailed 14-3 after the opening quarter and 20-13 at halftime. The hosts then outscored the Minutemen 30-19 in the second half.
Concord quarterback Jack Lietzen was 18-27 for 375 yards with four touchdown tosses. Star receiver Cedric Mitchell, who has committed to Bowling Green, had five receptions for 177 yards. Mitchell had touchdown catches of 45, 60, 40 and 22 yards for the Minutemen.
NorthWood plays at Goshen (3-0) and Concord hosts Wawasee (3-0) in NLC action next Friday night. Goshen topped Elkhart Memorial 35-14 and Wawasee edged Northridge 21-20 in double overtime in league play last night.