NEW MADISON — Grit and determination. That’s what it took for Tri-Village High School to defeat Ansonia High School football, 37-36.
Patriots running back Reed Wehr scored the game-winning from six yards out with just over a minute left in the game to win it. With Ansonia defenders around him, Wehr fought his way into the endzone.
“He (Wehr) willed that last touchdown. He was not going to be denied the game-winning touchdown. He’s so good in everything and he’s just so humble. He’s a great kid in the classroom, he’s the kind of guy that we like to have in the program,” head coach Matt Hopkins said.
With Ansonia trying to put together a game-winning drive, Patriots defensive lineman Seth Cook intercepted a screen pass to ice the game.
Ansonia played a great second half to be in the position to win the game with a stop. They scored 22 second half points to claim the lead late. Tigers running back Exzaviar Moody scored all three touchdowns in the second half for the Tigers. He had two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.
Head coach Adam Hall was proud of his team’s effort, especially in the second half. They just couldn’t finish the job.
“We really played our best football all year tonight. We just needed one more stop and couldn’t get it,” Hall said. “You can’t say enough about our effort, the week of practice we had. The guys did everything they could, we just needed one more.”
The first half started off with Ansonia getting the recovery on the opening kickoff as they went for the onside kick right away. They drove down the field and scored on a quarterback Ian Schmitmeyer pass to Keegen Weiss for a 6-0 lead.
Weiss scored again on a 25-yard run to have all of Ansonia’s points in the first half.
For Tri-Village, quarterback Braden Keating found receiver Tanner Printz for two touchdowns in the first half. One on a screen play and the other on a 38-yard touchdown pass.
After a few possessions featured turnovers, Wehr scored a 34-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots up 21-14. A 27-yard field goal by Keating gave the Patriots a 10-point lead at halftime.
After that, it was all Ansonia.
“We were down 10 going into halftime, it wasn’t looking great. Guys came out and played with great effort, which I knew they would do. We battled back in it and got the lead for a long time,” Hall said. “We just couldn’t get a stop at the end, they made one more play than we did.”
Both teams made big plays during the game. In the first half, it was the defenses making plays. Tri-Village forced Ansonia into three turnovers while Ansonia forced one turnover.
In the second half, both teams made key conversions on third and fourth down to keep their eventual scoring drives going.
Tri-Village didn’t quit once Ansonia took a 30-24 lead. Wehr ran for a 22-yard touchdown to tie the game at 30.
After Moody scored his receiving touchdown to go up 36-30, Wehr had his game-winning touchdown.
Hopkins said he was proud to see his team not flinch when Ansonia came storming back.
“Those guys answered the bell and more. I’m so happy for them, it was everything they did. They clawed and they fought. It’s what we want to be as a program,” Hopkins said.
Wehr finished with three rushing touchdowns and an interception. Keating finished with three passing touchdowns and one interception.
Schmitmeyer finished with two passing touchdowns and three interceptions.
Hall said he and his team will learn from this loss and be better from it. The Tigers are still in contention for a WOAC title. For Tri-Village, this win helps them stay in the race for the conference title.
“They’re (Ansonia) a really, really good physical football team. They have nothing to hang their head about. That was a huge win for us,” Hopkins said.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]