NEW MADISON – It was a full capacity crowd for the Tri-Village Homecoming and School Fair celebration. The highlight of the evening would be the pre-game recognition of Danny Stockton Homecoming parade marshal and Don and Mary Alice Brewer with their family as School Fair marshal.
The pre-game festivities continued with the crowning of the king and queens. Grace Engle was crowned queen and Austin Bruner King for Homecoming and Chloe Godown and Carsen Munchel for School Fair.
The upbeat mood of the crowd would however become a bit more somber as the National Trail Blazers stormed all over the Patriots on their way to a 23-0 lead at the half and a 45-8 win.
Trail took the opening drive all the way down the field, but the Patriots defense stiffened and a corner pass into the end zone was batted away by Devyn Sick forcing the Blazers to kick a 32-yard field goal and to go up 3-0.
Things didn’t start well for the Patriots on offense when they bobbled the kick-off and was downed on the 2-yard line. After escaping a near safety on their first possession they would punt from the back of the end zone setting up Trail on the 30-yard line.
Tri-Village gained a little momentum stuffing a fourth and 3 to take over on downs and thwart a good scoring opportunity. But the Patriots would give the ball right back to National Trail and this time the Blazers would score a touchdown on a fluke play with Peyton Lane picking up the loose ball and scampering into the end zone. The two-point conversion put the Blazers up 11-0 with 1:09 to go in the first quarter.
The Patriots put together a nice drive moving the football into the red zone looking to respond, but a pass by Layne Sarver was picked off by Joe Lawson at the 17-yard line to thwart a scoring attempt.
A few plays later, Evynn Short rewarded Lawson with a 5-yard pass for the score and the Trailblazers were in command leading 17-0.
Lane added another score in the first half for NT on a 2-yard run and the Blazers led 23-0 at the half.
Tri-Village had some opportunities in the third quarter but just couldn’t finish. They had three possessions in the third quarter, punted once, fumbled once and was intercepted once.
With the Blazers leading 38-0, Cody Eyer intercepted a short pass at midfield and returned it to the 33-yard line. Derek Eyer then finally got the Patriots on the scoreboard on a 26-yard TD run up the middle. Quarterback Layne Sarver then dove for the corner pylon for the two-point conversion to make the score 38-8 to avoid the shutout.
National Trail moved the football all the way down the field and with 16 seconds left to play punched in one more touchdown to make the final score 45-8.
It was a game that Tri-Village never really got on track and one National Trail won in all facets of the game, but Patriots coach Robert Burk saw some positives to take away from the game.
“It may not appear that way, but our defense played incredibly better than the past two weeks,” Burk said. “We got stops at times that we haven’t got before, but they have a good field goal kicker and he got a field goal and they scored on a crazy play where we stripped the quarterback, he fumbles, and their guy picks it up and runs it in for a touchdown.
“We forced some punts, last week I’m not sure Mississinawa ever had to punt,” he continued. “Yes, we did get ran through a few times, some of that was the defense being on the field so much and they have some huge bodies and we aren’t very big or deep. We had a lot of injuries in the first half, Austin Bruner didn’t play the entire second half, Tyler Cheeseman was out after one quarter and we were trying to sub people and just didn’t have the right personnel against their full house and they got off a couple long runs.
“Offensively we moved the football, we just didn’t execute like we did the last week and didn’t capitalize in the red zone with penalties that killed drives and then turnovers as well. We had a few more freshman playing this week and also trying to have some players focusing more on one side of the ball to eliminate being so tired at the end of the game like last week to get more production out of them,” Burk concluded.
Defensively, the Patriots were led by the Eyer brothers – Derek had 13 tackles and Cody 9. Mason Sullenbarger had 7 with 4 for losses as well. Offensively, the bright spot was Austin Bruner who led the team with 73 yards on 8 rushes all in the first half. He would get hurt late in the first half and didn’t return to the game.
Tri-Village falls to 2-3 overall at the halfway point of the season and 0-3 in the Cross County Conference. The Patriots will try to rebound this week when they travel to Bradford to take on the winless Railroaders.