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Saturday, October 13, 2012

North Defeats South

Tri-County North took another step closer to the playoffs with a victory over rival Twin Valley South.   Both teams had their share of big plays and turnovers.  But it was in the first half that North did their damage.  The offense did a good job with the run, although the pass was used effectively throughout the game.  As they had done the  week prior against Miami East, North  was able to capitalize on South turnovers.  South was able to move the ball at times, but only reached the endzone once in the second half.

However, on their opening drive South looked like they were going to march the ball down to the endzone and score.   But on the 4 yard line, JJ MacPherson picked off a pass and ended the threat.  But MacPherson was not done.  North then drove the ball back down the field and it was MacPherson who ended the drive with a 1 yard plunge.  Blake Lawson ended another  South drive with a fumble recovery.  North was able to take the ball deep into South territory but a stout defensive stand forced North to try a 34 yard field goal – it was missed.  But not by much the ball had the distance, but bounced off the goal posts. But sophomore kicker Trey Summers accounted for himself by acing all 4 PAT’s for North.

In the second quarter, North had their way.  First Michael Burke, the South running back was injured early in the quarter.  He came back in the second half, but was gimpy for the rest of the game.  So this derailed the South offense – at least for the moment. After a Lawson sack, South was forced to punt on a 4th and forever.  With the short field, North promptly moved the ball towards the goal line and Austin Hutchins connected with Billy Derringer for North’s second score.  MacPherson ended North’s scoring for the half with a 4 yard TD run.  North had another shot at the redzone late in the half when Huff recovered a South fumble on the South 29 yard line.  But a North holding penalty followed by a sack put North into a 4th and goal from the 24 where they turned over the ball on downs.

Now the second half had a most curious start.  Before the kickoff, North was penalized for their band not leaving the field in time. A very rarely called penalty in this reporters experience.  With the favorable field position for the kickoff  – South decided to go with the onsides kick, which they then recovered.  It was their turn to work with a short field and Wes Cole muscled the ball across the goal line a few plays later for South’s score.   North’s Austin Johnson had a nice return to midfield, but South’s defense now stepped up in the second half as well and Deron Brown picked off a pass to end that possession.   So now it was South that playing take away. James Cottingin also stopped a North possession later in the third quarter with a fumble recovery.   But JJ MacPherson, who was on his game the entire night, scored his third TD – a 26 yard TD catch.  So South wasn’t able capture all the momentum.

There was no scoring in the last quarter. But South had one last deep drive late in the 4th quarter.  Jesse Wysong made a nice catch to put the ball on the North 32.  But as time ran out a fumble ended the drive on the North 22. So after an all North first half – South played evenly with North in the second half – scoring 1 TD and giving up 1 TD. North got the victory 28-6. North was clearly the better team that night, but if South scores on that first drive of the game and again on the last drive of the game – then things get interesting.

Coach Engleka from TVS was interviewed after the game, “When you sit back and look at the numbers, we were fairly close, North had about 315 yards of offense, we were around 285.  And even when you break it down by passing and rushing – it was still fairly even.  The difference in the game was the turnovers.  North got 4 turnovers from us and turned 3 of them into scores. We got 2 turnovers from them in the second half, and could not do anything with the ball either time.   If we can convert those turnovers into scores, it’s a different game.

He continued, “To win a game a game, you can’t sit around and wait for it to happen. You have to make it make it happen. And to score a touchdown it’s the same thing, you can’t sit around and wait for it to happen.  When you get the ball in situations like that, when you can really swing the momentum around your way, you have got to make it happen. “ Wes Cole lead TVS rushers this week with the most yardage,  and James Cottingim lead the defense with 8 ½ tackles, a fumble recovery, and caused a fumble.

Coach Derringer was pleased with his team’s performance, “Both teams were really prepared well and knew what each was going to be doing. We had a bend but not break mentality that kept South out of the endzone.  They got some yardage up the middle with their spread offense, but we mostly kept them contained. We also did a good job of standing up their ball carriers and stripping the ball. We utilized JJ MacPherson quite a bit as he has good outside speed and we thought that was where South might be vulnerable. He ended up with over 120 yards on 17 carries and caught two big screen passes for us. “

Next week against Trail, “We just nudged up to the number 8 spot in our division and I know Trail can almost reach the top eight in their division. We want to make the playoffs and they want to reach the playoffs.  Both teams will have to play the best game of the season.  And that is the way we are preparing our team – to play their best game of season on Friday night.

 Miami East was also a winner on Friday night and that gave North a boatload of 2nd level computer points and for the first time this season, North has (unofficially) cracked the top 8 for the first time this season in their district.  But their position is fragile, next week’s game is against 6 game winner National Trail - a surprising team this season, who is fighting for their first playoff slot ever in their district.  Neither one can afford another loss from here on out, so it should be a big, emotional game for both teams. 

Elsewhere, Dixie had a big upset against Milton Union - who had been in first place in the SWBL Buckeye division.  That reshuffles the deck for the league title and also keeps Dixie alive in the playoff hunt. Look for coverage of the Dixie-Madison game next week.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

TCN 28  TVS 6 final
Tcn 21 tvs 0 halftime

Sunday, October 07, 2012

North Playoff Hopes Still Alive

Click here to see more game pics

With Covington steam rolling thru the Cross County Conference, it leaves everyone else fighting for second place and also for a chance at the playoffs.  That was the situation for the Miami East – Tri-County North game. Both teams have had losses, Miami East came into the game 4-2 and North was 3-3.  Neither team could afford another loss and still have a decent shot  to make the playoffs.  So it was a must win game for both teams.

The weather for the North game against Miami East was about what you would expect for football in October.   After the sun went down, temperatures rapidly dropped into the 40’s.  Then the rain came.  It was sporadic in the first quarter, then it became a steady drizzle that made conditions miserable on the field and in the stands.  The weather became a factor in the game but not quite as expected. 

A rule of thumb in football is that a muddy field favors the bigger, heavier team.  They get better traction.  And North has a small line this year.  But being a smaller team also meant that North was quicker. So as the ball got slippery and both teams fumbled as the night went on, it was North that was able to pounce on fumbles and gain an advantage in the turnover department.  Also North was able to connect on two critical passes for scores despite the slick conditions.

Miami East was on the scoreboard first, putting together a nice drive after recovering a North fumble in the last half of the first quarter.  North quickly answered at the open of the second quarter with a 25 yard carry by quarterback Austin Hutchins.  Miami East did a nice job of mixing the run and pass in their next drive to go up again by a touchdown.  North would answer again in exciting fashion.  Billy Derringer ran a deep route and the ball was slightly underthrown.  The defender was in position to catch the ball, but Derringer did not give up on the play. He adjusted and came back to the ball.  As both came down with the pass, he was able to snatch the ball from the defenders hands and run the ball in for the score to tie the game. 

Miami East scored on a field goal inside the 10 yard as time expired to get a 17-14 lead.   Conditions worsened on the field as the rain steadily poured down at halftime.  North would be the beneficiaries of not 1, not 2, but 3 fumbles that ended Miami East drives in the second half. JJ MacPherson and Austin Johnson were the ones who recovered for North.  Offensively both teams were doing Woody Hayes style football – slogging it out in the trenches with an occasional pass thrown to keep the other team off balance.

As the fourth quarter opened, North continued a drive to the endzone, urged on by a small but vocal contingent of hardy North fans.  Billy Derringer caught an Austin Hutchins pass for a 22 yard touchdown to cap the drive and give North their first lead of the night.   Now it was time for the defense to do its job.  The first Miami East drive ended with 3 plays and a punt.  North did likewise on their possession.  Time was running out for East on their last drive and they had the wind in their faces.  This last drive started at the 05:45 mark and now they went for it on 4th downs, converting twice – including a 4th and 9 with 01:09 left that put the ball on the 45 of North.  But Miami East had to go for it on 4th and 11 and this third time rolled snake eyes as the receiver caught the ball but was tackled by a North defender short of the first down marker.  It was a gallant effort by both teams, but now North was able to take the victory formation with seconds left and take a knee for a hard earned 21-17 victory.  

Next Fridays game of the week will be the North - South game.