Chase Viehland

Northwest running back Chase Viehland tries to avoid Riverview Gardens defenders Dakion Phillips, left, and Deanthony Brown during Friday night’s game in Cedar Hill. 

Eight different players scored for the Lions, and the team is off to a 3-0 start for the second season in succession. But the real story was the Northwest defense. The Lions were able to take advantage of good field position, four interceptions, three sacks and three fumble recoveries, including two by Johnny Daffron, who leads the St. Louis area with seven quarterback drops.

The fun started early for the Lions. On the third play of the game, Northwest defensive back Dalton Hografe tipped Ram quarterback Jamon Wandrick’s pass and linebacker JoJo Camacho picked off the carom.

Aided by a pass interference call against Riverview, the ensuing four-play drive ended when Lions QB Trey Davis found wide receiver Jack Watson in the right corner of the end zone. Andrew Lenzen kicked the extra point and Northwest led 7-0 with 10:30 left in the first.

After the Rams were forced to punt, it was muffed by Brady Cutter, and Riverview was in business at the 12-yard line of the Lions. Cutter redeeed himself, picking off a Wandrick pass to snuff out the drive.

Northwest drove down the field, and after a gutsy fourth-and-2 pickup by Landon Kettler, the end result was a short touchdown run by Derrill Reed, for a 14-0 lead. After a Riverview punt closed out the first quarter, the Lions would need just two plays to score again. Freshman Chase Viehland scampered for a nice gain, and Davis connected with Watson again, this time for 35 yards for a score. A bad conversion snap forced Davis to run it in, and it was 22-0.

Another Rams possession led to another miscue. Camacho recovered a fumble at the Riverview Gardens 5-yard line, and three plays later Hografe made it 29-0 on a short run. Daffron’s 38-yard scoop and score, and a Kettler touchdown run gave the Lions a 43-0 halftime bulge.

If there was a personal highlight in the second half, it was Lenzen, who plays in the defensive secondary as well. He picked off a pass from Anthony Weaver and returned it 66 yards for a score with 5:45 left in the third.

“I don’t think we’ve had one like this, at least not since I’ve been around,” Northwest head coach Corey Toenjes said about the lopsided victory. “The biggest thing for one, the last three years, is that we’ve done a lot of work on 7-on-7 drills in the offseason. That’s helped out both on our pass defense and coverage. The second thing is we’ve got a very good pass rush, as indicated by Daffron’s numbers, and the fact that he leads the area in sacks.

“(Riverview) started in a box (defense) on us and we hit passes that loosened them up. It also helped that we played a short field all night. It all starts with the offensive line, but a lot of guys contributed to this win and our running backs made plays.”

Jeffrey Hughes paced the Lions running attack with 67 yards on only five carries. Kettler had 10 carries for 46 yards and Viehland 43 on nine attempts. Davis was 5 of 7 passing, for an even 100 yards. Watson gained 70 of those on four catches. Hografe had 30 yards on his one catch.

Davis started the season with a 4-for-13 passing performance in a 14-13 win against Francis Howell North. Since then, in wins over Parkway South and Riverview, he has completed 13 of 16 throws. Davis said he’s more comfortable running the offense after playing behind Seth Fortner and Dillon Fisher the past two seasons.

“That was probably first-game jitters; first start as a varsity quarterback,” Davis said about his start against the Knights. “Now I’ve settled in and have learned that you can’t lose focus.”

“We’re a pretty confident bunch, I think,” said Watson, who leads the Lions in catches (11), yards (192) and touchdowns (4). “All the offseason work has paid off and everybody is making a contribution to the offense.”

The Northwest defense, meanwhile, held Riverview to negative 121 yards rushing on 15 attempts because of tackles for losses. The Rams did gain 210 yards through the air, with much of that coming late in the game.