WEST ALEXANDRIA – The Arcanum Trojans gave all that they had against Twin Valley South in a game that had all the elements that you could want on a Friday night game.
From a fan’s perspective it was great – there were several lead changes, and the game was not decided until there were eight seconds left. No one left early as the two teams fought back and forth for four quarters as Arcanum seemed determined to break its drought and get a game in the win column.
Both teams passed sparingly and featured the run on offense. It was a battle in the trenches, and the game’s ebb and flow was dependent upon which side’s line was getting a push at a particular moment in the game. Arcanum ran a double wing for most of the night, and South used both a double wing and spread offenses.
It was Homecoming for South and when the pregame festivities were over visiting Arcanum struck first in a bid to try and ruin the event for the home town team. On their second possession Trojan quarterback Daniel O’Donnell broke into the open and weaved his way 42 yards for the first points and the first lead of the night.
Arcanum’s defense was playing tough in the first quarter – stopping South twice, once at the 25 where South missed a field goal and again on fourth and 2 at the Arcanum 35 –which set up the touchdown. Maverick Hildebrand had two sacks in the first quarter to put a halt of any South thoughts of establishing a passing game.
Arcanum had problems with penalties and turnovers. And the turnover bug manifested itself in the second quarter when the Trojans put the ball on the ground at their own 21-yard line. Several plays later South punched the ball in to tie the game.
Then things got worse as a frustrated Trojan player was ejected from the game for a flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct call.
South finished out the half with a clock-eating drive, which started at 8:09. The Panthers used lineman Aaron Deaton as a fullback to pound the ball in between the tackles. He scored with about 22 seconds left in the half to put South up 14-7.
Arcanum almost handed South another gift when the Trojans fumbled again in their own territory early in the third quarter. But Arcanum’s defense held firm again and limited South to a field goal try, which the Panthers missed.
Arcanum’s offense caught a gear and thanks to an O’Donnell 25-yard run and a critical hard count on fourth and 5, which drew South offsides. Brandon Kinney completed the 80-yard series with a TD run to tie the game at 14–all. Despite the adversity, the Trojans were able to battle their way back.
But this seesaw battle was far from over. South found paydirt next when on their possession the Panthers went 65 yards and scored to pull ahead and enter the last quarter with the lead.
Both quarterbacks were dinged up going into the fourth quarter. O’Donnell was attended to for at least five minutes on the field after the scoring run by TVS and had to sit out the next play. And South’s Jacob Bassler was limping noticeably. Both teams would be pretty beat up by game’s end.
Now Arcanum went on a drive of its own. Kinney scored the touchdown and now Coach TJ Powers decided to go for the lead and go for two. O’Donnell was able to sweep around the end and put Arcanum up again 22-21 at the 6:30 mark.
The two teams exchanged possessions and South had the ball with 1:07 left.
South started at its own 26 yard line. The Panthers abandoned the run and began to complete short passes and move the ball down the field. Arcanum could not seem to stop the passing game of South.
With eight seconds left, Arcanum saw victory slip from its grasp as South completed a 14-yard pass into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
The Trojans got the ball back and tried for a Hail Mary pass, but the ball fell to the ground and so ended Arcanum’s shot at an upset – 28-22.
“It’s tough,” Power said. “The kids played hard and really put out the effort. They battled their way through a lot of adversity. I am proud of our kids, but it is tough that the game ended like this. O’Donnell had a good game, made some plays for us; he showed good leadership. Our defense stepped up several times this game – had three-and-outs and held on some fourth downs, but we couldn’t stop them on that last series.”
Coach Tyler Cates of TVS stated before the game that Arcanum is the best 0-4 team out there; the Trojans have played a tough schedule so far and after the game commented that he would not be surprised to see Arcanum win out the rest of the way.
Next week the Trojans will host National Trail at their Homecoming game. Trail is coming off of a win over Ansonia and so will have some measure of momentum going into Friday night.