Ansonia football team defeats Arcanum in CCC opener


ANSONIA – Ansonia erased a double-digit deficit Friday night and beat Arcanum 28-24 for its first victory of the 2017 football season.

Trailing by 14 late in the first half, Ansonia coach Eugene Hoening said his team was in a precarious situation as halftime approached. But the Tigers were able to pull within 7 points as time expired in the half with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Buckingham to Hunter Muir, which kept the Tigers in contention and set up a come-from-behind victory in the second half.

“That’s the difference in the ball game there,” Hoening said. “You know, we don’t score there we’re too far away to catch up in the second half so that was a heck of a play there by both Hunters.”

Ansonia and Arcanum both came up empty on their first two possessions of Friday’s Cross County Conference opener, leaving the game scoreless through one quarter. The Tigers then broke through on the second play of the second quarter as Buckingham and Muir connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the home team up 7-0.

From there, Arcanum began to take over as the Trojans rattled off 21 consecutive points and were on the verge of running away with the game.

Arcanum’s rally began midway through the second quarter with a long punt return by Daniel Coats that set up the Trojans in Ansonia territory.

Two plays later, Evan Atchley completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Coats that tied the game at 7-7 with 4:39 remaining in the second quarter.

After Arcanum’s defense forced a three-and-out, Coats again came up with a big play and returned a punt all the way to the Tigers’ 26-yard line.

One play later, Dylan Burns broke free for a 26-yard touchdown run that gave Arcanum its first lead of the night at 14-7.

Arcanum’s defense again forced Ansonia into a three-and-out, and once again Coats came up big – this time returning the punt for a touchdown to put the Trojans up 21-7 with 44.3 seconds remaining in the half.

“They really put it to us there in the first half,” Hoening said.

With less than 45 seconds remaining in the half, Ansonia quickly went to work and moved the ball down the field.

The Tigers’ possession began with Max Wardrip returning the kick into Trojan territory. Buckingham then picked up a big chuck of yards with a run and found Muir open twice to move the ball down to the 23-yard line with seconds remaining in the half.

As time expired, Buckingham completed a pass to Muir between two defenders. It was the fifth time the two connected on the night and pulled Ansonia to within 21-14 as the teams entered halftime.

“It’s a killer,” Arcanum coach Jason Schondelmyer said. “It’s a killer. And here’s the killer about it: when you work all week on that exact play and double cover it and we didn’t get it done. That kid made a play and we didn’t is what it really boils down to. My hat’s off to that kid. We’ve got to make plays in certain situations.”

Midway through the third quarter Arcanum was able to increase its lead to double digits once more when Atchley converted a 33-yard field goal that put the Trojans up 24-14.

But Ansonia again showed resiliency to battle back.

The Tigers’ comeback began with Wardrip returning the ensuing kickoff to midfield. That set up a seven-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Buckingham to reduce the deficit to 24-21.

After forcing Arcanum into a three-and-out, Ansonia’s momentum continued on the ensuing drive with a go-ahead touchdown. This time Brock Shellhaas broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers up 28-24 with 10:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Arcanum had two chances to regain the lead late in the game, but Ansonia’s defense held both times as the Tigers got the 28-24 victory.

“Not only the resiliency of the boys but I also think that both our defensive and offensive coordinators called a great game,” Hoening said. “Coach (Adam) Hall mixed up his defenses well. He had the boys prepared for that kind of double-wing offense. Coach (Matt) Macy done a heck of a job getting the ball to Hunter, making some big plays, and also we had an effective running game.”

Unofficially on the night Ansonia had 317 total yards of offense while Arcanum had 193. The Tigers had 207 on the ground and 110 through the air while the Trojans had 71 on the ground and 122 through the air.

Shellhaas led Ansonia’s rushing game with 94 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Buckingham carried the ball six times for 19 yards and a touchdown.

Buckingham was 7-of-12 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Muir caught five passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

Muir also had an interception on defense.

Atchley was 9-of-17 passing for 122 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Arcanum.

Coats caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 32 yards on five carries and returned a punt for a touchdown.

Burns ran 13 times for 33 yards and a touchdown.

“We played like we’ve played up until this point, which is good for a while but not good enough for four quarters,” Schondelmyer said. “That’s where we are right now. We did some better things offensively, which we hadn’t done, but we still lack that killer instinct of making plays in crucial situations. We’re just lacking that. I wish I knew. I wish I knew the answer to that. If I did coaching would be a lot easier, but right now we just can’t make a play when we need it.”

Arcanum fell to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the CCC with Friday’s loss. The Trojans will play host to Bradford on Friday.

Ansonia, who will travel to Bethel on Friday night, improved to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the CCC with the win.

“It’s just nice to win a game this early in the season,” Hoening said. “You know in the past several years we’ve struggled, and this is a nice one for us.”

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Ansonia’s Max Wardrip carries the ball during a Cross County Conference football game against Arcanum on Friday in Ansonia.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/09/web1_Max-Wardrip-WEB.jpgAnsonia’s Max Wardrip carries the ball during a Cross County Conference football game against Arcanum on Friday in Ansonia. Kyle Shaner | The Daily Advocate

By Kyle Shaner

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Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.