Patriots fumble one away


NEW MADISON – Tri-Village Football opened up play at home in the second week of high school football hosting the Dixie Greyhounds. Both teams entered the contest coming off of comfortable week one victories looking for an opportunity to be challenged. The contest would prove to be a competitive event to the final seconds, and in the end the Patriots were unable to turn the corner and pull out the victory.

The night began with a moment of honor and remembrance for the loss of a great son of the Tri-Village community. Coach Robert Burke and others presented the family of the late Austin Bruner, a 2019 Tri-Village graduate, with Austin’s No. 10 game jersey. The memory and impact continue to live on in the community and can be seen by the t-shirts and wristbands worn by many in his name.

Following the game’s opening kick-off, the Tri-Village defense seemed poised to handle the Greyhound’s option style running game. Led by Cody Eyer who made a big tackle for a loss, the Patriots had Dixie on the ropes on third down. However, Conner Hawk would break a run to the outside and stretch the field for 61-yards, putting Dixie in scoring position. Logan Grubb would punch it in for the first score of the night in little over 2:00 of action.

Tri-Village wasted no time responding. With Dylan Finkbine under center, the Patriots offense began mixing it up. With passes complete to Josh Scantland, Layne Sarver, and Cody Eyer, the Tri-Village spread offensive attack made quick work of Dixie’s defense. A Devin Swick 20-yard run and later a 10-yard TD pass to Sarver put the Patriots on the board. Finkbine also grabbed the lead for the Patriots by running in the extra point attempt, making the score 8-7 with almost 6:30 to play in the 1st quarter.

The contrast in offensive styles presented spectators with an exciting contest to watch. Dixie with its running game and Tri-Village via passing, the two would continue this back and forth rapid assault of offensive power. An eventual break in rhythm would be the only way one side would be able to take advantage. Dixie provided Tri-Village that opportunity when Jimmy Myers fumbled late in the 1st quarter and was recovered by Blake Brandenburg.

The Patriots offense once again went back to work, marching down the field and into the second quarter. Just 1:00 minute into the 2nd quarter, Finkbine was able to rush 4 yards to pick up the touchdown. This was called back by a holding penalty on the Patriots. Continuing the drive, Tri-Village was able to get to 4th and Goal on the 1-yard line. The Patriots ran a sweep to the outside that was shut down by the Greyhound defense resulting in a turnover on downs.

The change in momentum allowed Dixie to gain some control of the game and the clock. After several running plays involving Grubb, Myers, and Dustin Simon, Dixie found themselves on the 19-yard line and only 2:30 remaining in the half. Hawk again showed off his agility, bouncing a run to the outside and finishing the drive with a touchdown, putting Dixie up 13-8.

Tri-Village looked to quickly respond. After a low snap and fumble, Zack Dowler recovered for the Patriots. Facing third down and 1:00 in the first half, the team looked to Sarver to make a play. Breaking several tackles, Sarver took a short yardage pass 52 yards for a touchdown, getting Tri-Village back on top 14-13.

At the half it appeared Tri-Village held the offensive momentum. Despite failing to capitalize on a long offensive drive, unofficially the Patriots held the advantage in total yardage 244-174. Finkbine had connected on 11 out of 13 pass attempts for 201 passing yards.

Tri-Village opened the second half with possession, and continuing their offensive momentum marched down the field. However, a Finkbine pass to Dowler that resulted in a fumble ended the drive with 10:00 to play in the quarter.

After back-to-back penalties that would eventually offset one another, Dixie settled into their game. Led by Grubb, the Greyhounds offense patiently moved the ball down the field in a possession that took over 6:00, but resulted in a turnover on downs.

Weathering the storm defensively, Tri-Village looked to capitalize on the opportunity. With the setback of another penalty and two incompletions, the Patriots drive was ended when Jordan Butt intercepted a Dylan Finkbine pass in Tri-Village territory.

Dixie, again returning to its methodical run game, would hold possession into the start of the 4th quarter. It was the first play in that next frame that Grubb would break free for a 47-yard TD run. This pushed Dixie out in front again 19-14.

Tri-Village’s next possession would end quickly with another interception by Jimmy Myers. Dixie would take advantage and burn 4:00 minutes of clock before Tri-Village would get another offensive opportunity.

With new hope, Tri-Village failed to connect on a pass, followed by another penalty setback. The drive would end with a turnover on downs.

As all hope seemed to be fading away, Tri-Village found a new opportunity when Justin Finkbine caused a fumble near midfield. Now with Layne Sarver taking snaps, the Patriots immediately connected a pass to Josh Scantland. With 4:00 to play, a low snap caused a fumble that the Patriots recovered, followed by an incomplete pass. The Patriots facing 4th down, 13-yards to go, and 3:30 left to play, were in need of a big play. However, the play would get busted and despite Sarver scrambling for several yards, Tri-Village would fail to convert.

Dixie found ways to extend their last drive and use the clock to their advantage as they walked away holding the 19-14 victory.

The Patriots head coach after the game quickly acknowledged the disappointment with the outcome. “We left a lot on the field, and our kids know that. We deserved to play with these guys. We’re not happy with the outcome, but if we value the ball, don’t turn it over, we probably win this one tonight.”

The Patriots finished the game with 6 penalties and 4 turnovers, a majority of which came late in the second half. In addition, total offensive yards in the second half only totaled 52, giving Dixie nearly 100-yards of offensive advantage in the half.

Despite the frustration of losing a close game, the Patriots look forward to the next opportunity. “They’re (National Trail) possibly the second best team on our schedule,” stated Burke, “and they’ve got three of the best athletes in this league. But as I tell my team every night, you deserve to be out on this field against anyone.”

The Patriots move to 1-1 on the season after tonight’s loss. Tri-Village will spend the week preparing for their first league match against the Trailblazers at National Trail.

Patriots use a pass play in the teams loss to the visiting Dixie Greyhounds. use a pass play in the teams loss to the visiting Dixie Greyhounds.

By David Barger

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