NEW MADISON – Friday night’s game between the Tri-Village Patriots and the Hillcrest Academy Rams featured two teams with contrasting styles of offense.
The Rams’ scores came off of big plays – a 79-yard touchdown run, a 61-yard pass and a 55-yard punt return are just a few examples.
Although the Patriots did pass, they ran more of grind it out kind of offense. And when you are trying to keep the other team’s offense off the field by running a possession type of offense, you cannot afford many mistakes.
The Patriots put themselves into long yardage situations with either penalties or allowing the ball to hit the ground by fumble. It has been a balmy fall, however, this night was the coldest night of the season – additionally the field was slick from the rain that had fallen earlier.
The Patriots only lost one fumble, but they let the ball hit the ground several times. When they did not drop the ball, they seemed to get a penalty. And when you are grinding out yardage, you cannot too many afford third and longs.
At the half it was a close game 18-14 in favor of Hillcrest. But things fell apart in the third quarter
Hillcrest’s first play of the third quarter was a touchdown pass.
Christian Ricker later got an interception to give the Patriots an opportunity, but in the ensuing drive a holding penalty put the Patriots in long yardage. Tri-Village had to punt, and the punt was returned for a touchdown.
On their last possession of the quarter a muffed ball cost the Patriots 15 yards. They punted to midfield where the Rams drove the ball and scored on their shortest run of the night, a 22-yard TD.
Still the Patriots made a run in the fourth quarter that fell short. To their credit they did not give up after the lousy third quarter.
They finally had a flawless drive when Gavin Richards ran it in from 17 yards out.
After stopping Hillcrest on fourth down, Josh Wiford caught a 13-yard pass for a touchdown on Tri-Village’s next possession.
Time was drawing short, but the Patriots were on a run, which gave the home town crowd hope. As suddenly as it arose, the Patriots’ span of flawless execution ran out. On their next chance they gave up a tackle for loss and then a penalty – forcing them to pass in a long-yardage situation. Hillcrest put an end to the Patriots’ run with an interception, and the Patriots’ comeback fell short, 38-26.
The Patriots had some high points. They recovered a total of three on-side kicks on the night. Ricker had hot hands and covered two of them while Wiford grabbed the other one. Also scoring were Noah Burns, who scored the first points of the game on an 18-yard run, and Jared Buckley, who scored a 6-yard touchdown.
“We need to learn to win football games,” Tri-Village coach Jason Schondelmyer said afterwards. “There were times where we showed how good we could be as football players, but there were other times where the other team was more physical than us. You can do all the plans and preparation. But a lot of football is basic blocking and tackling. And the team that blocks and tackles the best is going to win. Tonight I thought that Hillcrest did a better job of that. We have a done a decent job on the season as far as penalties, but tonight was a step back. When you find yourself at third and 15-plus there just are not a lot of plays for that.”
Tri-Village will conclude its first season against Lutheran East from Cleveland on Saturday at a neutral site – Hilliard Darby High School in Columbus.
Next year the Patriots should be happy to be part of the Cross County Conference – their travel budget will be reduced. They had to reach to patch together a varsity season this year and had to schedule teams from Indiana, Cleveland and Cincinnati.