J. C. Tilton
South had the first offensive possession on Friday night and didn't do much - there was a miscue on the first play and on 3rd and long an illegal procedure penalty tacked on an extra 5 yards. Bradford on the other hand was primed and ready to go. They took over on their own 40 and they ran a quarterback bootleg down to the TVS 5 yard line. After an almost 2 hour delay due to lightning they crossed the goal line to go up 6-0. The extra point was blocked .
TVS moved the ball on the next series, but the drive stalled. TVS went back to punt and faked it, completing a long pass from Rehmert to Hickey to move the ball inside the Bradford 30. Their defense made a good stand and South decided to go for a field goal on 4th down. The attempt was blocked and the RailRoaders took over on their own 21. They moved the ball, but around midfield they had to punt. This was blocked by TVS and Caleb Betzner scooped up the loose ball and scrambled to the endzone for an apparent TD. But the penalty bug bit the Panthers as an illegal block called the ball back out to the Bradford 43. So South would have to work for their TD. They did a decent job of moving the ball. Betzner contributed again by catching a Rehmert pass on an important 3rd and 8 play. His catch moved the Panthers into scoring range on the Bradford 7. Rehmert took the ball into the endzone. The Panthers had 2 tries at an extra point due to a Bradford roughing the kicker, but both tries failed.
The Panthers allowed Bradford to move the ball, but held when they had to. On their next possession a 60 yard catch by Hickey put the ball on the Bradford 6. Again Rehmert carried the ball into the endzone, and again the extra point was missed. So at the half it was TVS 12 - Bradford 6. After the break each team had a series that didn't go very far. But on their second possession Bradford got their motor running. They ran a series of sweeps that the Panthers could not contain. From the 5 yard line Bradford ran another quarterback bootleg for a TD to tie the score. But as the teams readied themselves for the extra point lightning again flickered to the West and the game was halted, then postponed to Saturday - noon.
With the game tied at 12, it was a new game on Saturday. The weather was more favorable, sunny and dry. There was roughly 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The critical extra point for Bradford was the first play of the day. The snap was mishandled and the holder fell on the ball - so the try was no good. The Roaders did an onside kick which TVS recovered on their own 48. But both teams defenses were playing good ball and the two team exchanged possessions. On the ensuing drive Bradford Skie Abney rocketed around the end for 31 yards and a TD. Jason Trick scored on the 2 point attempt and a critical defensive breakdown lead to a Bradford TD.
So TVS was looking at a 8 point deficit. The RailRoaders did another onside kick which went out of bounds at the Panther 37. The Panther offense moved the ball well using both the pass and run. They drove all the way to the Roader 6 yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. Then Bradford gave the Panthers a gift, they fumbled the ball away on their own 11 yard line. But the red zone was the dead zone again for the Panthers. It was 4th and 6 when a delay of game penalty made it 4th and 11 - and for a second time Bradford staved off the Panther offense. Now it was getting late in the 4th quarter. Bradford couldn't move the ball and had to punt. The kicker belted a nice punt and it took a Bradford roll going a total of 71 yards.
The Panthers came rolling back down the field. Artz and Unger had some nice carries for first down yardage and when Bradford committed to the run, Rehmert completed a nice 45 yard pass to Hickey with 2 minutes on the clock. A roughing the passer and a couple more runs put the ball on the 11 yard line. Then Artz took the ball to the 5 with about 40 seconds on the clock. But the Panthers were running out of downs and time. They tried to run the ball two more times for no yardage. The RailRoader defense was pumped up. And on 4th down and 5 South tried to go over top the Bradford defense. Hickey ran a pattern to the sidelines, but the pass fell incomplete. With seconds on the clock, Bradford took a knee and took their first victory of the year 20-12.
The South defense did have one break down on Saturday, but overall their tackling improved from Friday night. It seemed like it was taking 3-4 attempts to bring down a runner. On Saturday the first man to hit generally brought the runner down. They also took the sweep away, it was killing them Friday night. On offense, it was good to see them get some points on the board after being shutout, but it was disappointing to get that close to paydirt with 4 downs and come away empty handed 3 times on Saturday. In total yardage and time of possession, I am sure the Panthers had the advantage in the second half. Hats off the Bradford D for their tenacity inside the 20's. With a short field, they did not have to worry about a long pass to Hickey and could focus on stopping the run.