ANNA – Getting off to a fast start can do a lot of things for a football team. Scoring early can help build momentum and give your team confidence and put doubt in the opposing team.
Versailles kicked off to Anna to start Friday’s game, and the Tigers ended up with the football when the return man muffed it. The Tigers capitalized on Anna fumbles to hand them the Rockets their first loss of the season, 20-12.
Set up at the Anna 32-yard line, Versailles scored with 9:01 left in the quarter on a 2-yard Noah Grisez run to take a 7-0 lead. That was all the scoring in the first quarter, but the Tiger defense was not allowing Anna to get anything going on offense.
Late in the second quarter Anna punted from its 20-yard line, and Alex Wendel took the punt 50 yards for a touchdown. The score was called back on a holding penalty, and the Tigers had to start at their own 40.
Wendel would visit the end zone again on the drive, scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:18 left in the half. The Tigers missed the extra point but looked to head into the locker room with a 13-point lead and the ball to start the second half.
The Tiger defense had other plans. Jacob Heitkamp stopped a Rocket runner and knocked out the ball, which flew up in the air. George Grow scooped it out of the air and scored on a 46-yard fumble return. With 0.39 seconds left in the half it was 20-0 Tigers.
Most teams would pack it in and regroup at halftime. Anna moved to midfield quickly and was looking for a big play. A Tiger defender looked to snuff out that hope by intercepting the Anna quarterback but was called for pass interference. Anna scored on a 28-yard pass the next play with 3.4 second left in the half. The extra point was blocked, and the Tigers went to the locker room with a 20-6 lead.
Both teams had trouble holding on to the football.
“We made some mistakes of our own,” Versailles football coach Adam Miller said. “The defense played awesome the second half.”
Versailles recovered six fumbles. Jacob Heitkamp tipped a pass and intercepted it.
“It was an awesome play,” Miller said. “He plays his butt off.”
The Tigers fumbled five times, losing two of them.
Anna would have the lone score in the second half with 7:23 left in the third quarter. The Tigers were flagged for pass interference on a fourth down play that allowed Anna to score on the next play. Once again the extra point was blocked.
Late in the fourth quarter Anna had a fourth and 8. Sam Barga knocked a pass down, and the Tigers were able to run out the clock.
The Tigers are now 2-1 on the season and face a re-surging Delphos St. John’s team on Friday.
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