UNION CITY – Ansonia dominated the first half Friday night on its way to a 50-14 win over Cross County Conference rival Mississinawa Valley.
The Tigers built a 43-0 lead in the first two quarters with strong efforts all-around on offense and defense. Hunter Buckingham and Hunter Muir connected for two touchdown passes while three Tiger running backs found the end zone in the first half. On defense Ansonia forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Brock Shellhaas, and limited Mississinawa Valley to just 26 yards of offense in the first half.
Ansonia began the game by pounding the ball on the ground and scoring on its opening drive with a 9-yard touchdown run by Shellhaas. Aydan Sanders scored on a 2-yard run on the Tigers’ second possession, making it 14-0 midway through the opening quarter.
Muir then intercepted a pass – his first of three interceptions on the night – to set up another scoring drive. This time Devyn Sink ran for a 13-yard touchdown, and Ansonia added a two-point conversion to make it 22-0 in the first quarter.
“We have four or five really good running backs, and they all scored tonight,” Ansonia offensive coordinator Matt Macy said. “They all run the ball hard. They all have their own things they do well.”
Ansonia made it 29-0 early in the second quarter when Shellhaas scooped up a Mississinawa Valley fumble near midfield and returned it to the house.
“That scoop-and-score thing is something we work on every defensive practice,” Ansonia football coach Eugene Hoening said. “It came in handy tonight.”
The Tigers increased their advantage to 36-0 midway through the second quarter when Buckingham and Muir connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Moments later Muir hauled in his second interception of the night to give Ansonia another scoring opportunity before the half ended.
“It’s being in the right place at the right time,” Hoening said. “When you play your position correctly good things happen. And remember, he’s not the only guy on defense; there’s 10 other guys also doing their jobs.”
The two Hunters hooked up again on a 15-yard strike with just six seconds remaining in the half to make it 43-0.
“Hunter (Buckingham) is a slight quarterback, but he throws a great ball, throws a great deep ball,” Macy said. “And then Hunter Muir is a great deep ball one-on-one (receiver). If we give him a 50/50 ball, he’s going to get 75 percent of them.”
After turning the ball over three times and averaging just over a yard a play in the first half, Mississinawa Valley coach Mike Griffin was frustrated but kept his calm during the halftime break.
“There’s no reason to go in there yelling and screaming,” he said. “It’s not going to help the situation. It’s just going to make it worse. So I basically told them, you know, the one thing that I ask for out of my football teams is to have character, to stand up and fight no matter what the situation is and just keep fighting.”
Mississinawa Valley responded in the second half. The Blackhawks moved the ball well and also got a break when Muir intercepted a pass but fumbled during the return. Four plays after the turnover Nate Gladdish scored on a 2-yard run to put MV on the scoreboard, 43-6.
Mississinawa then recovered an onside kick at midfield, which set up a 43-yard touchdown run by Gladdish. With the two-point conversion Mississinawa Valley was within 43-14 with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“They didn’t lay down,” Griffin said of his players. “They didn’t quit. Actually they played with less intensity in the first half than they did the second half when you would think it would be the opposite because of what the score was.
“I give those guys credit for having good character, being good kids and doing those things, but obviously we’re not happy with the way we played the first half.”
The game’s final score came in the fourth quarter with Ansonia scoring on a 1-yard run by Jarvis Thwaits to make the final score 50-14.
Ansonia unofficially had 339 yards of total offense with 233 on the ground and 106 through the air.
Buckingham completed all four of his passes – all to Muir – for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Cody Sanders ran the ball 12 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, Sink ran eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown, Shellhaas ran five times for 38 yards and a touchdown, and Thwaits ran 11 times for 33 yards and a touchdown.
On defense Shellhaas had a fumble recovery and touchdown while Muir intercepted three passes.
Mississinawa Valley quarterback Trent Collins was 5-of-17 passing for 68 yards and four interceptions. He connected with five different targets with Max Dirmeyer leading the way with 20 receiving yards.
Gladdish ran 10 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Collins had 24 rushing yards on nine carries.
Mississinawa Valley had 85 rushing yards and 68 passing yards for a total of 153.
Ansonia improved to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the CCC with Friday’s win. The Tigers will play host to National Trail (2-4, 1-3 CCC) on Friday.
Mississinawa Valley fell to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the conference. The Blackhawks will play host to Fort Loramie (4-2, 3-1 CCC) this week.
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.