By Drew Terhall
ANSONIA — Both teams came into this one 4-0 and have looked like the top two teams in the WOAC. Ansonia defended their home field and won 30-22 over Tri-Village on Sept. 15.
After losing this game last season at Tri-Village, head coach Adam Hall said the team felt like they could have done better in that matchup after making many mistakes. All of the work the team has put in led them to getting their revenge.
“You got to give credit to our guys. They have been lifting weights since January. We average over 30 guys in the weight room daily. Every time we ask them to do something, the way they work, the way we go in the summer in two a days, they wanted this one tonight,” Hall said.
Ansonia started the game milking out the clock and methodically drove down the field. Senior Keegen Weiss scored from three yards out with 5:32 left in the first quarter and the Tigers were up 8-0.
It took Tri-Village about two minutes to drive down and get on the scoreboard. Senior Braden Keating found senior Reed Wehr for a nine-yard touchdown pass to make it a 8-7 game.
After getting 22 yards on a fourth and third, Weiss scored from the one-yard line to go up 16-7. The Patriots held strong as Keating found Wehr for a 50-yard touchdown as the Patriots were now down 16-15 in the second quarter.
The Tri-Village defense started to match the physicality of the Ansonia offensive line. Tri-Village head coach Matt Hopkins said the team didn’t flinch and kept fighting.
“It was a big game, great crowd. They brought in everybody and the governor. We had to fight to weather the storm there. I thought we did and we started to play a lot lower and a lot more physical. Our defense played really well,” Hopkins said.
Both teams traded fumbles during the second quarter. But, Ansonia had the ball at the one-yard line and one last play before halftime. The Patriots stopped the Tigers and went into halftime only down 16-15.
The Patriots defense came up big again as the Tigers were driving down the field behind their running game. Tri-Village forced a fumble as Ansonia was at the three-yard line.
But, the team couldn’t drive down to score themselves. They were stopped and forced to punt. On the punt attempt, the snap was high and Wehr was forced to pick it up and run with it. Ansonia got the stop and the ball at the Tri-Village 24-yard line.
Hopkins said the team couldn’t take advantage of some opportunities against a great Ansonia team.
“We got some stops, some turnovers and things like that. We just didn’t capitalize. That’s a good football team. That’s a really good football team,” Hopkins said.
Weiss scored from four yards out to go up 22-15 as they couldn’t get the two-point conversion. That left the door open for Tri-Village.
Keating found freshman Griffin Richards for a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 22-22.
Ansonia didn’t waver. Senior quarterback Nick Burns wasn’t called on a lot, but he made a few throws to help keep the drive alive. Hall said Burns showed why they have confidence in him to make plays when his number is called.
Weiss then scored from the one-yard line on fourth and one to go up 30-22. Tri-Village was able to get into Ansonia territory around the 25-yard line.
The Ansonia pass defense stepped up big. Hall said players like seniors Ethan Reichert and Jared Schmitmeyer and junior Peyton Kelch all were able to get a pass rush on Keating. He also said his secondary covered pretty well during the game.
Penalties and sacks put the Patriots behind the chains and the Tigers defense stood tall to win the game.
“We had our back up against it a couple of times. We really stood up, especially down there. That was awesome,” Hall said.
Weiss was responsible for all of Ansonia’s touchdowns with four total. Keating had three passing touchdowns.
Tri-Village is now 4-1 and are a game out of first place. Last year, Ansonia and Tri-Village shared the conference title with one loss each. Hopkins said the team still has a lot to achieve this season. This loss doesn’t completely take them out of contention.
“I told them this all year long, one game doesn’t make or break the season. We saw how nutty it was last year and we still got a share of it,” Hopkins said.
Ansonia is 5-0 and in the drivers seat to get an outright title. Hall said there is still a lot of work to be done this season. It does help they have gotten through a tough team midway through the season.
Hall said with Tri-Village being a great team themselves, they helped bring the big game atmosphere to the field.
“We got a lot of things that we got to fix. You got to give credit to Tri-Village. If they weren’t the team they were and the coaching staff that they have, the atmosphere wouldn’t be this. We knew, because they have been good for how many years now, that adds so much to this. They’re a great team,” Hall said.
Ansonia will travel to Twin Valley South on Sept. 22 for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Tri-Village will host Tri-County North on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]