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South Falls Short in Fourth
J. C. Tilton

The attention of these two winless teams in the CCC attracted the attention of many in the local news. Both Miami East and Twin Valley South were riding multi-season losing streaks coming into Friday's game. The channel seven helicopter dropped by to check in on the first half of game, likewise channel 22 had a van set up the entire game. Although the teams were battling to stay out of the bottom, you could not tell it from the atmosphere and the excitement that the game generated.

South received the ball and had a good return to midfield. They got a first down on the Viking 34 and Spencer Ervin snapped off a good run to put the ball on the 14. From there Josh Flynn connected with Corey Bassler for the first score of the game. Scott Leedy scored the PAT to put South up 7-0. The team came out fired up and really moved the ball well. But the South success was short lived. On the kickoff a break down in coverage resulted in a Miami East runback for a touchdown.

South had another good return to midfield courtesy of Wes Bassler. But the team could not move the ball and had to punt. Their next possession South had a promising start, but a first down pass by Wes Rehmert was called back because of an illegal receiver. Although Wes had been used from time to time to throw an option pass or two earlier in the season, this was the first game where he quarterbacked and had multiple snaps from the shotgun. Flynn still took most of the snaps, but Rehmert was utilized several times during the ballgame. But then a bobbled snap and tackle for loss pushed the team back to about their own 5 yard line. South had to punt and with a short field to work with Miami East was able to complete a pass for about 30 yards for a TD. Now the Vikings were up 14-7 with 8:30 left in the second quarter.

TVS dodged a bullet later after receiving the kickoff. They fumbled the ball on their second play and the Vikings were back in business on the TVS 37. Brandon Wiseman made a huge defensive play when he made a tackle for loss and put the Vikings in a long yardage situation. They could not move the ball after the tackle and gave up the ball on downs. Although South moved the ball into Viking territory before the end of the half, a sack put South into a 4th and 14 situation and they could not convert. The half ended with Miami East still up 14-7.

In the second half the Miami East team seemed to run the ball better. Their opening drive advanced easily into South territory but then it stalled. But South had made some offensive adjustments of their own. South started their first drive of the half on their own 21. Corey Bassler caught a first down catch at the TVS 38. Later in the drive, Spencer Ervin ran for about 22 yards thanks to a key block by running back Wes Rehmert that allowed him to get around the corner on a sweep. Now it was 1st and 10 on the Viking 37. Wes Rehmert got the Panthers their next first down with a three yard carry to the 24. The Viking defense stiffened in the redzone and the Panthers needed to convert a critical 4th and 5 down. Wes Rehmert connected with Corey Bassler who hauled in the critical pass and was tackled on the four yard line. Corey Bassler finished for the Panthers when he caught a four yard TD pass and the Panthers were back in business with the game tied 14-14 with 3:25 left in the third quarter.

Miami East gouged huge chunks of yardage out of the Panther defense on their next drive using the run. They moved the ball to the TVS 25 in rapid fashion. It looked like the Panther defense would repeat their earlier success when Matt Wentlender tackled the Vikings for a loss. But the pass would be the undoing of the Panthers as the Vikings once again ended their drive with a TD pass, this time for 28 yards. This put Miami East up 21-14 early in the last quarter.

South went back to work their next drive. The moved the ball well, into Miami East territory where Joe Maleski caught a Rehmert pass on the Viking 23. Scott Leedy got the next first down, a catch on the 6 yard line. It looked like South had Miami East on the ropes. Rehmert rolled to his left and threw a pass to the flats - where a Viking defender timed the pass perfectly and picked it off, sprinting back to the South 35 yard line. What a heart breaker.

The South defense allowed them to advance and they finally had a first down on the three yard line. But South held firm for 3 plays. Miami East needed to a score to put the game out of reach for the Panthers. On 4th and 8 they lined up in a field goal formation. The holder put the ball down and then sprinted to his left. The South defense tackled him at the 4 yard line and now they were back in business - dodging a bullet and now needing a touchdown to tie.

With 2:48 left in the game, the Panther offense went to work. Flynn connected with Leedy for a first down on the TVS 23. A pass interference call gave TVS another first down. With a little over a minute left, South tried a tricky double pass. The second pass fluttered and the Vikings were able to intercept to end the South threat. From there they went into the victory formation and took a knee on succeeding downs to end the game with a Viking win 21-14.

A tough defeat for the Panthers - particularly with the pregame attention from the media. The young men showed plenty of spirit and fought to the end. Next week they will host Bradford. The streak will end, it is just a matter of when. Comments:

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