WEST ALEXANDRIA – The spotlight was shining on the Cross County Conference as Channel 45 selected the contest between Tri-Village and Twin Valley South as its featured game of the week on Thursday night. Some of the games this season have been very lopsided but viewers were treated to a close game between the two teams. It was a tight 8-8 score at halftime, but the Patriots, who were beneficiaries of turnovers in the first half, coughed up the ball three times in the second half. Still the Patriots kept slim hopes alive in the waning seconds before finally falling 22-16.
Both teams had drives deep into enemy territory in the first quarter but were held scoreless. The Patriot defense held on a fourth and 3 on their own 6 to deny the Panthers. But the Panthers likewise halted a Patriot drive on their own 38 to end the first quarter scoreless.
Layne Sarver, a freshman who does double duty as both quarterback and safety, had a great defensive first half. He intercepted two passes and batted away a Panther pass into the end zone. The second interception happened in the red zone and denied South a chance to score. On the following drive the Patriots were able to score and get the first lead of the night.
Derek Eyer helped set up this score by catching a Sarver pass and getting to the 42-yard line of South. Then, Austin Bruner carried the ball to the South 12-yard line. A few plays later Bruner scored on a 2-yard run.
South was able to score late in the second quarter and tie the ball game. South passed sparingly after the two interceptions and seemed intent on running between the tackles the remainder of the night. With a bigger line, South was able to control the ball for a good deal of the second half. Between that and turnovers, the Patriots had a tough time getting their defense off the field.
“There is no doubt that the three second half turnovers were the difference in the game,” TVHS coach Robert Burk said.
The turnovers gave South a short field, so they did not have far to drive. They only had to go 35 yards for their first score of the second half. The next score came from a punt that put the ball at midfield. Early in the fourth quarter South scored again to go up 22-8. The Patriot defense was able to keep South out of the red zone despite letting them control the ball between the 20’s.
The Patriots offense sprung to life with about a minute left. Bruner caught a long Sarver pass to the 3-yard line and a play later he caught another pass for the score. With 18 seconds left the Patriots still had a shot, but South was able to field their onsides kick and end any hopes of a Hail Mary pass.
“I thought we were two plays away from beating them,” Burk said. “We had a chance to score again just before the half, and five plays away from being up by several touchdowns. But you have to hand it to South, they ran the ball hard and played good defense. They have some big kids and kept doing the same stuff over and over and we had a tough time stopping them. But last year we folded and let them keep on scoring in the last half. But we had two big fourth down stops to keep them from scoring again and giving us a chance at the end.
“We make a couple of those plays and we win the game,” he continued. “We stayed with it to the end. We scored in less than a minute and had a chance with that onsides kick. But I think our program is going the right direction and we are going to put in the work to keep getting better.”
“The kids really want to be here and the community is behind us. I am happy with the direction that we are going. It is a new program and we continue to evolve and get better. I know the community really wants to make football important up there. This is our second year in the CCC and we continue to ratchet up our expectations. What impressed me tonight was that we didn’t quit and kept playing and playing.”
The Patriots team is young and will only continue to get better with time. Next week the team will host league-leading Fort Loramie.