By Ryan Berry
DEGRAFF — The Ansonia Tigers varsity football team traveled to Logan County to take on the Riverside Pirates. It was a night of big plays for the Tigers as they rolled to a 36-14 season opening win.
The Tigers took the opening kick off and steadily moved the ball down the field picking up a couple of nice runs from their slate of offensive backs. Two and a half minutes into the game, Ansonia picked up its first of several big plays. Exzaviar Moody broke loose on a 39-yard touchdown run to put the visiting team on top 6-0. A botched snap on the extra point attempt kept the game at 6-0.
The Pirates looked like they were going to answer Ansonia’s score on their first drive. After starting their own 30 yard line, Riverside drove all the way to Ansonia’s 10 yard line when the Tiger’s had their first big play on defense. The Tigers were able to force a fumble and jumped on the ball to stop the drive.
The Tigers were forced to punt after a 15 yard penalty put them behind the chains and the Pirates were able to find a rhythm on offense. They drove the ball to Ansonia’s 20 yard line before getting a 20-yard touch down pass with 8:05 left in the first half. With a succesful extra point, Riverside took a 7-6 lead.
It only took Ansonia 2:15 to retake the lead for good. A 39-yard pass from Ian Schmitmeyer to Keegen Weis put the Tigers up 12-7. The two-point conversion was good and Ansonia was up by seven.
Ansonia’s defense came up big again on the first play from scrimmage after the kick off. Trendon Spence got his first interception of the season. Not only did he help his team on defense, he also picked up a 30-yard run that took the Tigers to the four yard line. They would eventually get a one yard run from Schmitmeyer to increase their lead. With another two-point conversion, Ansonia was up 22-7 with 41 second left in the half.
The Pirates quickly drove the ball down the field thanks to some big plays and big penalties and had a chance to get on the board again. Ansonia’s defense once again showed they would bend, but not break. With 20 seconds remaining, the Tigers were able to knock down passes on first and second downs. With five seconds left and the ball on the 10 yard line, Riverside completed a pass but the Tiger defense was able to stop them with no gain as the clock ticked down to 0.
The second half was much like the first half with the Tigers being dominate. They added a one-yard touchdown run from Garrett Stammen and a two-point conversion catch from Weiss to go up 30-7 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.
Riverside was once again driving when the defense came up with another big play. This time it was an interception by Landyn Bowman at Ansonia’s 35 yard line. That big play was soon followed up by another big play from Moody to give Ansonia its final score of the evening. With 4:21 left in the game, Moody took the ball 20 yards for the score. The extra point was no good.
With a couple minutes left on the game clock, Coach Adam Hall put in his second string. The Pirates were able to add their second score of the night on a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:32 left in the game. The second string offense then ran out the clock to give the Tigers the victory.
Coach Hall was very impressed with his team. “Coming into tonight, we knew we had really good running backs and that showed tonight. Our offensive line play very well – Jason Stover, Eyan Hackler, Jared Schmitmeyer, Landin Hiatt – those guys inside, we had big holes to run through.”
The big plays were important for Ansonia. “The thing with our offense sometimes, the big plays aren’t there early. We keep preaching to the guys keep chugging they’re going to come. On defense we made plays when we needed to make plays,” said Hall. He pointed out that they have a lot of players that can make plays with ball. He believes they can get them all involved each week.
Hall pointed to the play just before halftime as one of the biggest of the game. “Before halftime, getting that stop was huge.”
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected]