ARCANUM – The Arcanum Trojans were looking to get on the right side of the win column taking on Tri-County North in Cross County Conference play Friday night.
Arcanum came up 15 seconds short as the Panthers scored the winning touchdown on a 25-yard run up the middle by Tanner Booth to steal the win away from the Trojans after a strong second half performance.
“We couldn’t get our offense on track in the first half and made some mistakes … but our defense played well enough to keep us in the game,” Arcanum football coach TJ Powers said.
Arcanum had some opportunities in the half as the Trojans moved the ball a few times but turned the ball over twice on a fumble and interception by Drake Coleman on the 17-yard line to stop a scoring drive.
The defense held strong for most of the first half … but Tanner Booth exploded through the left side of the line and raced 44 yards for the score to put the Panthers up 7-0 at the half.
Arcanum took control in the third quarter as the Trojans ran a very long, time-consuming drive that all but erased seven minutes that was capped by an 18-yard run by senior fullback Brandon Kinney. The extra point attempt came up short and so were the Trojans on the scoreboard, 7-6.
After forcing North to punt the Trojans started on their 16-yard line and moved the ball out to the 40 only to fumble the ball for the second time, resulting in their third giveaway on the night.
Tri-County North took advantage, striking on a 39-yard aerial from quarterback Bo Hendrickson to Braden Gray as the third quarter ended. Gray hauled in the pass on the 10-yard line, slipped one defender, split two more defenders on the 5-yard line and then dove under a final defender at the goal line for the touchdown and increased the Panther lead to 14-6.
Arcanum received the ball to start the final stanza and much like their opening drive of the third quarter the Trojans dominated the trenches, picking up 4 and 5 yards at time.
Again the Trojans ran off a good chunk of time off the clock. Facing a fourth and goal from the 5-yard line the Trojans threw a flare pass into the flat to Brandon Kinney, who scampered in at 4:44 for the touchdown.
Down by two the Arcanum had a critical two-point conversion and found success around the right side on a run by Daniel Coats to tie it up 14-14.
Arcanum looked like it was going to get the ball back after stuffing the Panthers, who were looking at a fourth and 2 from their own 29-yard line.
But instead of punting the ball away TCN put the game on the line and rose to occasion, squeaking out 2 tough yards to garner the first down with 1:41 to play.
It was a very gutsy call and really the play of the game.
“We put the responsibility back on the kids. I said if we don’t get this maybe we aren’t ready to win this game,” North coach Bill Derringer said. “I asked each of them can we get it, and every one of them said yes, we can get this, and I’m glad because I really didn’t want to put the ball back in their (Arcanum) hands with the way they were moving the football.”
From there North went to a hurry up offense and Arcanum was on its heels as the Panthers ripped off big chunks of yards, eventually setting up the heroics for Booth one more time, who scored with 15 seconds left to earn an exciting 21-14 win.
“We weren’t sharp tonight, but I’ll give the kids credit,” Derringer said. “We never quit, and sometimes when you aren’t playing well you just keep fighting. I really didn’t do anything. The kids went out and won it when the game was on the line.”
“It was a great football game,” Powers said. “Both teams played really hard tonight and were gassed at the end. I tip my hat to Tri-County North. They are good football team.
“I can’t fault our kids. They gave it all tonight, and this is a tough loss. I love these kids, and this football team, and I really hurt for them more than anything. We just have to keep our heads to the grindstone and keep working, and we will have a break through,” Powers concluded.
Tri-County North improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in the Cross County Conference and will host Mississinawa Valley on Friday.
Arcanum dropped to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the CCC, and it doesn’t get easier as the Trojans travel to Casstown on Friday to play Miami East.