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Saturday, October 31, 2009

South Survives Trail Scare
J. Chris Tilton

Twin Valley South has not had many easy wins this season. Last Friday was another game where South needed some late game heroics to pull out a victory. It was senior night and several seniors would step up to make big plays against the Blazers. Two players would reach the thousand yard mark during the course of the game. Running back Skylar Reckers broke a thousand yards carrying the ball and Miles McCollum would break a thousand yards for passing the ball. And South would need every yard against the Blazers. During the pregame the seniors honored the memory of Joe Kasserman by placing his jersey at the bench before the end of the season.

There was a strong South wind blowing at the start of the game. And maybe it was just coincidence, but South was likewise strong in the early going. Tyler Leach went 68 yards on the second play of the game for South’s first score. Then South utilized Skyler Reckers from the wildcat formation and he raced 40 yards for another score. Finally a third touchdown was scored by Steve Balthis. Seemingly, South could do no wrong.

And as good as South was playing, Trail just couldn’t get on track – particularly on special teams. One kickoff return went thru the receivers hands and he was tackled at the 7 yard line. A snap went over the punters head and resulted in a safety. Later in the game the punter would ‘whiff’ on a punt and give South good position again. The net result was that by early in the second quarter South was up 23-0 and it was beginning to look like the rout was on. I was thinking that perhaps we could see some clean jerseys playing in the second half.

But Trail under coach Graher is a more resilient team. On their first possession of the second quarter, they drove the length of field thanks in part to a TVS facemask penalty. They capped their drive with an old fashioned hook and ladder play where Danny Dillon would score from about 29 yards out. It was about this time that a familiar nemesis paid a visit. Yep once again the rain came down. South would fumble the ball away, but Balthis would intercept a Blazer pass to end that drive. But late in the quarter Trail would score again. This time aided by a South pass interference call. And at the half the South lead had shrunk, it was 23-12.

The third quarter was all defense as both teams dug in their heels and were stubborn at giving up yardage. South had the best opportunity of the quarter when the Trail punter missed the ball on a kick and South got the ball at the Trail 22 yard line. A Reckers TD run was called back by a penalty and on the next play a Miles McCollum pass was picked off by a Blazer to end the threat.

But after that interception the Blazers drove the length of the field and Day scored from one yard out. Now the South lead had shrunk to just three points. South needed to regain some lost momentum. Seniors Miles McCollum and Skylar Reckers provided that spark on a 62 yard pass play that re-extended the South lead. The South defense likewise responded and ended the next Trail drive, denying a 4th and 4 try. After getting the ball back on downs, it was Reckers who scored again. This time on a 23 yard carry. South had a two score lead – 36 to 20.

But the Blazers were angling for a late game comeback. Danny Dillon caught a pass to get the ball inside the twenty. A hold put them into long yardage where Caleb Wesler caught a pass from Taylor Neal for a touchdown. But the all important two point extra point try was denied. Trail did an onsides kick, but the South hands team recovered the ball. And when South needed one more first down to keep the ball away from the Blazers in the final minute, Tyler Leach delivered with a 7 yard carry to move the chains one last time. So South survived a close one 36-26.

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