ANSONIA – Ansonia shut out National Trail 30-0 in a Cross County Conference football game on Friday, giving the Tigers their first win of the 2016 season.
“I think it kind of gets the monkey off the players’ back, but we’ve got a lot of games ahead of us,” Ansonia coach Eugene Hoening said. “We can’t be satisfied with this. We have to use it as motivation to get better in the weeks to come.”
Ansonia out-gained National Trail both on the ground and through the air. Unofficially the Tigers had 226 rushing yards and 62 passing yards for a total of 288 while the Trail Blazers had 171 on the ground and 39 through the air for a total of 210.
Even more importantly Ansonia won the turnover battle. The Tigers forced four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – while not turning over the ball once themselves.
“I hate to say it but that’s zone defense,” Hoening said of his team’s ability to take the ball away from Trail. “As you know I’m a man-to-man guy.”
It took a while for Ansonia to get going as the Tigers went three and out during their first offensive possession and then gave up three first downs to National Trail. However, Ansonia forced a turnover on downs at its own 30-yard line and then got moving.
It took just four plays for Ansonia to cover 70 yards with Aydan Sanders running 30 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 6-0 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
It remained a one-score game until late in the second quarter. Sanders intercepted a National Trail pass, setting up a 37-yard touchdown strike from Matthew Shook to Hunter Muir with just 14.9 seconds left in the second quarter. Sanders ran in the two-point conversion, and Ansonia led 14-0 entering halftime.
“I’ve got to give the credit to Coach (Matt) Macy,” Hoening said. “He called a heck of a game. He saw what kind of adjustments they were making and called the play that would work against that adjustment.”
Sanders’ big game continued in the second half as he scooped up a National Trail fumble, setting up another Ansonia score.
The Tigers then went 75 yards in 15 plays with Max Wardrip capping off an eight-minute drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Wardrip also ran in the two-point conversion, making it a 22-0 game with 1:18 remaining in the third quarter.
“This is Max Wardrip’s second week at running back, and I think he improved about 200 percent since a week ago,” Hoening said.
Ansonia forced two turnovers in the fourth quarter – first an interception by Cody Sanders and then a fumble recovery by Nathan Denniston. The fumble recovery led to another Ansonia score, this one by the Tiger backups.
Brock Shellhaas ran 12 yards for a touchdown to finish off the six-play, 41-yard drive. Hunter Buckingham then connected with Shellhaas for a two-point conversion, making it 30-0.
Sanders led Ansonia with a team-high 80 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries. Wardrip had 70 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Trevor Beam carried the ball 14 times for 47 yards. Shellhaas had two carries for 17 yards and a touchdown.
Shook completed 2-of-5 passes for 62 yards and one touchdown. Muir caught one pass for 37 yards and a touchdown while Sanders caught one for 25 yards.
Tyler Glander led National Trail with 64 rushing yards on 12 carries, Jacob Heck had 58 yards on nine carries, and Ben Sullivan had 49 yards on 12 carries.
Sullivan was 1-of-4 passing for 6 yards and an interception in the first half. Eyvnn Short was 3-of-7 passing for 33 yards and an interception in the second half.
Even though his team got the win, Hoening still saw room for improvement.
“Their defensive line gave us problems,” he said. “They executed well. I think they pretty much whipped us on the offensive line.”
Ansonia improved to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the CCC with the win. National Trail fell to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the CCC.
Ansonia will return to action on Sept. 30 with a home game against 4-1 Troy Christian, who is coming off a 27-26 loss to Covington.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.