CONVOY — Crestview and Paulding clashed Friday in a battle for a .500 season and sole possession of fourth place in the NWC behind tri-champions Spencerville, Allen East, and Columbus Grove. It looked to be a close contest — but wasn’t.

The Knights rode a stellar defense and the four-headed running attack of Brody Brecht, Logan Gerardot, Kaden Short, and Caylib Pruett to a 41-6 win to finish the season at 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the NWC. The Panthers finish at 4-6 and 3-4 — 5th in the NWC.

Despite a huge difference in total offensive yards in the game (Crestview 435, Paulding 144), the first half was close. It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Knights broke it open.

With 38 seconds left in the first quarter, Brecht scored from 26 yards out, and Kaden Kreischer booted the PAT to lead 7-0 after one.

Early in the second quarter, Brecht pulled a Houdini-like escape act and went 42 yards for an apparent score, but it was called back because of a holding penalty. No problem. Two plays later, Brecht duplicated the feat, and Kreischer’s PAT upped the margin to 14-0 at 6:50.

However, on Paulding’s next play from scrimmage, quarterback Payton Beckman threw a bomb into the out-stretched arms of Caleb Manz for a 59-yard TD to get the Panthers within 14-6 at 6:34. The PAT kick missed low.

Pruett took the ensuing kickoff on a long return into Paulding territory, but his sensational run was negated by a block-in-the-back penalty, and the lead remained 14-6 at the half.

Gerardot had third quarter touchdown runs of 23 and 55 yards at 8:47 and 6:11 to remove any doubts. Short broke loose for a 38-yard score at 3:05. Kreischer was successful after the first and third of those scores, and it was 34-6 after three.

Brecht scored his third touchdown of the night on an 8-yard run with 7:25 left in the game, and Kreischer’s PAT made it 41-6, setting the continuous clock in motion.

Brecht had 20 carries for 194 yards, Short 11 for 107, Gerardot 5 for 98, Pruett 8 for 38.

Except for Paulding’s second-quarter TD, the Knights kept the lethal Beckman-to-Manz aerial combination in check, leaving Beckman little time and sacking him on three occasions. Crestview also held Jacob Deisler, the NWC’s second leading rusher behind Brecht, to just 33 yards on 17 carries.

Mason Penix, Brayden Moeller, LaTurner, and Gerardot led Crestview in total tackles with 6, 5, 4, and 4, respectively. Gerardot had the game’s only interception.

It was the final high school game for Crestview’s four seniors — Short, Pruett, Isaiah LaTurner, and Colby Swager. They exited the playing field together with 2:38 left in the game.

Paulding’s eight seniors are Deisler, Evan Edwards, Seth Dysinger, Jacob King, Riley Coil, Cole Mabis, Owen Carnahan, and Brandon Jackson.

Mabis, Coil, and Deisler led Paulding in total tackles with 9, 8, and 5.

Scoring summary:

Crestview 7 7 20 7 - 41

Pauding 0 6 0 0 - 6

1st quarter —

0:38 — Brody Brecht (CV) — 26-yard run. PAT kick by Kaden Kreischer. 7-0.

2nd quarter —

6:50 — Brecht — 42-yard run. PAT kick by Kreischer. 14-0.

6:34 — Caleb Manz (P) — 59-yard pass from Payton Beckman. PAT kick failed. 14-6.

3rd quarter —

8:47 — Logan Gerardot )CV) — 23-yard run. PAT kick by Kreischer. 21-6.

6:11 — Gerardot — 55-yard run. PAT kick by Kreischer. 28-6.

3:05 — Kaden Short — 38-yard run. PAT kick failed. 34-6.

4th quarter —

7:25 — Brecht — 8-yard run. PAT kick by Kreischer. 41-6.

Statistics:

First downs — CV 17, P 7.

Rushing attempts/yards — CV 48/425, P 25/79.

Passing comp/att/int — CV 1/3/0, P 3/11/1.

Passing yards — CV 11, P 77.

Total yards — CV 435, P 144.

Penalties/yards — CV 6/54, P 0/0.