South in Another Nailbiter
J. C. Tilton
There have been two traits for this years Twin Valley South team. One is the ability to come from behind. They have shown that they are a team that won't roll over and play dead when the other team gets ahead. The other trait is pulling out a win in the last minutes of the game. This shows the confidence that the team has in itself and their tenacity - the ability to find a way to win. Both factors would come into play against the Bethel Bees.
South would need to make adjustments on both sides of the ball against visiting Bethel this last Friday. The Bee's looked tough in the first quarter. Even when TVS blocked a punt (JT Stone and Miles McCollum) to put themselves in excellent field position the Bee's held and forced a 4th down incompletion. Then Bethel got their offense in gear and ground out a clock eating drive that produced a TD with less than a minute left in the quarter. The extra point was missed and South was down 6-0.
South responded early in the second quarter. A touchdown pass was called back to due to a hold - what to do? Come back with another pass play, this time to Joe Maleski who caught a short pass from Josh Flynn and then slashed thru the secondary for a 29 yard touchdown reception. The PAT was good and South was up 7-6. Bethel would score again with 4 minutes left in the quarter. This illustrates another trend for the team, giving up big plays in long yardage situations. Bethel was in a long yardage situation but were able to connect on a pass and took it to the house for a 59 yard touchdown reception. JT Stone swatted down the pass when Bethel tried for a two point conversion. So at the half, Bethel was up 12-7.
Josh Flynn got the second half rolling on a 90 yard kickoff return that would later be featured as the play of the week for Dayton's channel 7. South was back in the lead 14-12. But Bethel again hit pay dirt on their possession when a long pass went for a touchdown. Next South had to dodge a bullet as Bethel picked off a pass and took over at the South 28. Then they got a first at the 13. But a holding penalty followed by an illegal procedure penalty knocked them back. Finally on 4th down and long the South defense came thru with a sack courtesy of JT Stone and Jesse Koeller. With the momentum back, South moved the ball close to midfield where Josh Flynn connected with Marcus Boyd for a touchdown. This time the PAT was missed and when the quarter ended it was knotted at 20 all.
A good return put Bethel at midfield. And they worked the short field to good advantage, scoring with 9 minutes left in the game. The extra point was blocked by South. So it was now 26-20. South moved the ball close to midfield where JT Stone had one of his longer carries of the season, galloping for 39 yards to the Bethel 5. He banged to the two yard line, then on the next play Flynn called his own number and got the TD. The PAT was good and TVS appeared to be in the drivers seat.
The next drive was most curious - and the officiating would cause everyone to raise an eyebrow. South had an unsportsmanlike call that gave Bethel a first down. After a new set of downs, Bethel had a personal foul called on them. A Bethel hold put them in long yardage and in a familiar theme, South gave up a big play - a 39 yard touchdown. Now for the extra point. Bethel went for two and passed. Flags were immediately thrown on the play at the area of the receiver. The PAT was called good. The South defense stayed on the field at the endzone while Bethel's kickoff team assembled close to midfield. After much heated discussion by referee's and coaches the extra point was declared no good. It could not be established if he had actually caught the ball. So now it was a do over. This time Bethel ran it in to cap off the most unusual drive of the year so far.
With just under 3 minutes left in the game TVS took over on their own 38 yard line after a pooch kick by Bethel. Judiciously using their time outs, South worked the ball down the field. With 1:05 left in the game, South took their last time out and set up their play. It was a Josh Flynn keeper that went 9 yards for the touchdown. Now it was decision time, go for one and force a tie to put the game in overtime - or go for win with a 2 point conversion? South went for the win - the offense lined up for a 2 point play. Flynn rolled out on a run/pass option. The play appeared to be stalled, and with Bee's clinging to his jersey Flynn did a little push pass to an open Marcus Boyd in the endzone. The home town stands erupted in cheers as South went up by one 34-33.
But there were still 59 seconds left in the game for Bethel to score. Their offense took the field after a squib kick from South. But Matt Wentlender put the icing on the cake as he hauled in an interception at midfield on the Bee's first play from scrimmage. South took the victory formation and ran out the remaining seconds for the win. Very many more nailbiters like this and the South coaching staff will run out of fingernails!
Coach Cottingim allowed that he was happy with the 4-0 record, but also he admitted that he would like to have a bit more cushion in the wins. “Still we'll take the close games as long as we come out on top”. He also stated that the 2 point conversion was an easy decision - “the team had the momentum and if you try for overtime, bad things can happen in the overtime period.” Offensively he thought that Josh Flynn was outstanding besides a big night passing he had over 80 yards carrying the ball. When Bethel jammed it up inside the tackles during the game, they opened the defense by going overtop with the pass. The team gained about 330 of total offense, about half of that was thru the air. Defensively, JT Stone led the team in tackles. The coach did admit that the team gave up too many points, “we have to make tackles.” Next Friday South visits a tough Covington team. Comments email: Chris Tilton