ANSONIA – Ansonia lost its Cross County Conference opener Friday night, losing 48-16 to Tri-County North in a game that ended just before midnight.
Ansonia and Tri-County North sat through more than two hours of weather delays before they finally could begin their game. Once the game began North was in control for most of the night as the Panthers won by 32 points.
“They came out, and they were hitting on all cylinders,” Ansonia football coach Eugene Hoening said about Tri-County North. “Their team executed well. They had some speed. They’re just a well-coached ball club. And they didn’t make mistakes.”
Neither team got much going in the opening quarter as the game began with Ansonia and Tri-County North trading punts after a three-and-out series by each squad.
Ansonia’s second offensive series also was a three-and-out that ended with a punt, which Tri-County North returned into Tiger territory. The Panthers couldn’t get much going on offense, though, and turned the ball over on downs after picking up one first down.
Ansonia finally got some offense going on its third drive as the Tigers picked up a pair of first downs. However, the Tigers eventually had to punt and North’s Logan Elmore returned the kick more than 80 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead 23 seconds into the second quarter.
Following another three-and-out by Ansonia, Elmore returned the ensuing punt all the way to the Ansonia 29-yard line. After a false start backed up the Panthers, Lane Gunder connected with Gavin Overholtz for a 33-yard pass and then Josh Heindl ran 1 yard for a touchdown, giving Tri-County North a 14-0 lead.
After another Ansonia punt, Tri-County North put together a five-play, 56-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 41-yard run by Gunder to make it 21-0 with 4:10 left in the first half.
Ansonia’s ensuing possession ended with another punt that Elmore returned for his second touchdown of the night to put Tri-County North up 28-0 with 1:12 left in the half.
“You cover punts, you’ve got to sprint to the ball,” Hoening said. “And we didn’t sprint to the ball very well.”
With time running out in the half, Devyn Sink returned the ensuing kickoff into Tri-County North territory to give Ansonia some momentum.
A pass interference call and runs by Nick Buckingham moved the ball into the red zone. Then with just 1.4 seconds left in the half, Dane Wentworth connected with Sink for a 5-yard touchdown pass to get Ansonia on the scoreboard. With Buckingham running in the two-point conversion attempt, Ansonia cut North’s lead to 28-8 at the half.
After both teams punted to begin the second half, Tri-County North got its offense clicking again. The Panthers went 84 yards in five plays with Gunder connecting with Elmore for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers up 35-8 with 5:41 left in the third quarter.
After forcing another Ansonia punt, North went 90 yards in six plays during its next drive with Gunder and Elmore connecting again, this time for a 27-yard touchdown pass that made it 42-8 and started the running clock with 40.8 seconds left in the third quarter.
The clock didn’t continue running for long, however, as Sink returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
“Devyn was able to get up into the wedge and find the crease and find the daylight and go the distance,” Hoening said. “So that was a plus.”
With a two-point conversion pass to Cody Burnfield, Ansonia’s deficit was down to 42-16 with 16.2 seconds left in the quarter.
Momentum seemed to be on Ansonia’s side as the Tigers forced a three-and-out and then moved the ball deep into Tri-County North on its next possession. However, the possession ended with a turnover on downs, and North regained momentum with a five-play, 77-yard drive that concluded with a 4-yard touchdown run by Alex Kerby to make it 48-16, which proved to be the final score.
Unofficially on the night Ansonia had 159 rushing yards and 63 passing yards for a total of 222.
Buckingham led the rushing attack with 66 yards on 18 carries.
Wentworth completed 7-of-18 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Sink caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown and also returned a kick for a touchdown.
Tri-County North unofficially had 376 total yards including 264 rushing yards and 112 passing yards.
Gunder was 7-of-10 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran four times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Elmore caught three passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns and also returned two punts for touchdowns.
Heindl carried the ball six times for 70 yards and a touchdown. Kerby had five carries for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Ansonia fell to 1-1 with Friday’s loss while Tri-County North improved to 1-1. Ansonia will travel to Miami East on Friday, and North will play host to Arcanum.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hoening said. “We’re so young, but you can’t use that as an excuse. They practice as much as anyone else. We just have to execute better, period.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.