NEW PARIS – After falling behind 24-8 at halftime, Ansonia came out strong in the second half, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers lost 30-20 to National Trail in a Cross County Conference football game.
“Sometimes I think we’re snakebit,” Ansonia coach Eugene Hoening said. “We’re our one worst enemy. We had a couple turnovers that hurt us, but you’ve got to give credit to National Trail. They played hard. They did a good job protecting the ball. They were able to feature their athletes 40 (Ben Sullivan) and I think their tailback was 9 (Dominique Huffman). Both of them ran the ball very well.”
National Trail out-gained Ansonia by more than 100 yards with the Blazers unofficially gaining 362 yards and the Tigers gaining 249. Ansonia also caused problems for itself with four turnovers while National Trail turned the ball over just once.
The game started out fairly well for Ansonia as the Tigers forced the Blazers to punt during the opening series of the game.
But Ansonia’s first offensive play of the night was intercepted by Corbin Hoblit, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. With a two-point conversion run by Sullivan, National Trail led 8-0.
Ansonia quickly rebounded, though, and tied the game. The Tigers mounted an 11-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Cody Burnfield. With Nick Buckingham adding a two-point conversion run, the score was knotted at 8-8.
After Ansonia’s touchdown drive that ate more than five minutes off the game clock, National Trail also went to the ground and put together a long scoring drive. The Blazers went 67 yards in 11 plays to regain the lead with 9:44 left in the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by Sullivan. The 6-foot 4-inch, 225-pound Sullivan then ran in the two-point conversion, and National Trail led 16-8.
After being forced into a three-and-out during its next possession, Ansonia got off a great punt that pinned National Trail back at its own 10-yard line. That didn’t stop the Blazers, however, as two plays later Huffman broke a tackle and raced 90 yards for a score. With another two-point conversion by Sullivan, Trail led 24-8.
After both teams traded punts, Ansonia took over at its own 41-yard line. The Tigers moved into National Trail territory and seemed to be gaining momentum, but a fumble derailed the drive. National Trail then ran out the clock and went into halftime up 24-8.
Facing a 16-point deficit, Ansonia came out of halftime strong. The Tigers returned the second half-opening kick to their own 42 and then put together a seven play touchdown drive with Dane Wentworth throwing a 27-yard touchdown pass to Max Wardrip. The two-point conversion failed, though, and Ansonia trailed 24-14.
After forcing a National Trail punt, Ansonia was moving the ball again and got all the way to its own 47-yard line. However, the Tigers’ second fumble of the night again killed a promising drive.
“We were able, though, to establish some drives,” Hoening said. “A couple long drives on offense and that’s what we do – ball-control offense. We just limit our mistakes, and we’ll be OK.”
Five plays later Ansonia regained possession when National Trail fumbled the ball and Jarvis Thwaits recovered it. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, though, and had to punt.
After forcing a National Trail punt, Ansonia’s offense went back to work with another long drive. The Tigers went 65 yards in seven plays with Buckingham running for a 30-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-20 with 4:53 left in the fourth quarter.
“They don’t give up, that’s for sure,” Hoening said of his team. “They’re conditioned to go four quarters, and they played four quarters. You can’t doubt the boys’ effort.”
Ansonia’s defense couldn’t get the stop it needed, however, as National Trail ran the ball and ate up time. The Blazers ran the clock down to 1:30 and increased their lead to 30-20 with a 23-yard touchdown run by quarterback Michael Bane.
Then on the first play of Ansonia’s next possession National Trail’s Michael Ray intercepted a pass to seal the 30-20 victory for the Blazers.
“We’ve just got to clean up our mistakes,” Hoening said.
Ansonia unofficially ended the night with 249 total yards including 216 rushing yards and 33 passing yards.
Buckingham ran 14 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Burnfield carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a touchdown. Aydan Sanders had 36 yards on seven carries, and Wentworth had 26 yards on five carries.
Wentworth was 2-of-8 passing for 33 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Wardrip caught both of Wentworth’s completions.
National Trail unofficially had 362 total yards with 233 yards on the ground and 129 yards through the air.
Huffman led the rushing attack with 134 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Sullivan had 39 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Bane had 43 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Hoblit added 17 yards on seven carries.
Bane was 12-of-18 passing for 129 yards. Sullivan caught two passes for 46 yards, Kaleb Deardorff caught three passes for 35 yards, and Noah Brinkley caught three passes for 17 yards.
Ansonia fell to 1-4 overall and 0-4 in the CCC while National Trail improved to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference. Ansonia will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday when it travels to Troy to face 3-1 Troy Christian in a non-conference game.
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.