UNION CITY – Mississinawa Valley was seeking its first win of the season Friday evening as the Blackhawks faced the 1-5 National Trail football team.
The Blackhawks were fired up for the game and on an emotional high, but small mistakes would plaque them through the contest, causing them to fall 39-15 to the Blazers in Cross County Conference action.
MV took possession after the opening kickoff on its own 36. Excitement was building as the Blackhawks were ready to run their first play; unfortunately the hand-off exchange was fumbled and recovered by National Trail at the MV 27.
The Blazers took the ball and used nine plays but could only gain 26 yards. The Blackhawk defense held National Trail out of the end zone after the Blazers had first and goal at the 6.
“We had a great defensive stand to start the game after we turned it over,” Mississinawa football coach Mike Griffin said. “We stopped them down there.”
After the great defensive effort the Blackhawks started at their own 1 and made one first down before the drive stalled, forcing MV to punt.
Trail took possession at the Mississinawa 25. Two plays later Blazer quarterback Evynn Short found running back Lucas Boggs for a 23-yard touchdown pass. The point after was no good, but Trail led 6-0.
Following an excellent Nate Gladdish kickoff return the Hawks started their drive at the Trail 47 looking to open up the offense. But on the first play quarterback Trent Collins’ pass was tipped and intercepted by the Blazer secondary, giving Trail the ball at the MV 20.
The Mississinawa defense again rose up to the occasion and would not let National Trail gain any advantage from the turnover. The Blackhawk defenders forced a three plays and out to give their offense back the football.
MV took 2:55 to travel 65 yards to score the tying touchdown with 11:09 remaining until halftime. The score came on the fourth and goal at the 10 on a Collins to Gladdish pass into the left flat for the six points. The point after attempt was good, giving the Blackhawks a 7-6 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Blazers went on a grueling 14-play march culminating with a 1-yard touchdown by 6-foot 4-inch, 240 pound senior running back Ben Sullivan. The two-point conversion failed, and with 5:50 before intermission Trail led 12-7.
After trading three-and-out possessions, National Trail had the ball with 1:07 remaining in the half at its own 47. Following a false start penalty the Blazers had a fourth and 5 at midfield with less than 20 seconds remaining. With the clock running, quarterback Short found Angel Garabito down the right sideline for a touchdown with seven seconds left on the clock. The point after was good, giving Trail a 19-7 lead at the break.
The momentum the National Trail offense gained at the end of the first half continued to roll on throughout the second. Of the four Blazer drives NT scored touchdowns on the first three, two more on the ground by Sullivan and another aerial by Garabito.
The Blackhawk offense became more consistent, mounting three nice drives out of four possessions. The first was a 12-play march that was stopped on downs as MV reached the Trail 31. The second was a 10-play drive that featured a 20-yard pass on a fake punt that led to a Collins to Trent Perkins 29-yard strike for six points. The two-point conversion was successful.
“We didn’t make bad decisions tonight,” Coach Griffin said. “We didn’t execute. We seem to have two people making mistakes on every play, not the same two people. It’s always two people. Until we get all 11 on the same page we’re going to have issues.”
National Trail with the victory raised its record to 2-5 on the year. Mississinawa Valley is 0-7 on the season and will face 1-6 Ansonia on Friday night.