Long Field, Long Night
J. C. Tilton
Last Friday TVS had to work with a long field most of the night, while their opponents seemed to get the ball in good field position. I did not keep an official tally but almost every possession by South seemed to start from around their own 20 yard line. It varied some for Bradford, but they started from midfield many times. The TVS defense did a fairly good job in the air - snagging a couple of interceptions, but had problems stopping the run. Also penalties at inopportune times haunted the Panthers all game. All this combined made for a long night.
The first possession by Bradford was typical. They got the ball at midfield, then a 15 yard face mask helped them down the field. Jordan Keener did make a good play during this possession, getting back some of the yardage with a tackle for loss. But Brad completed a pass to the TVS 23, and worked the ball into the endzone from there. The extra point try was blocked and Bradford was up 6-0 at the 8:38 mark.
Josh Flynn took the bulk of the snaps for South at quarterback, although Anthony Armstrong would run the offense part of the time in the second half. TVS had to punt on their first possession and Bradford took over close to their own 40 yard line. They put together a drive that took them to about the one yard line where a quarterback sneak gave the Railroaders their second score of the quarter. This time Bradford elected to go for 2 and made it giving them a 14-0 lead.
The next possession by TVS almost ended up in disaster. They started on their own 25 and had advanced the ball when a fumble was recovered by Bradford. Things looked really bleak for TVS - would the Panthers be down by three scores before halftime? But Anthony Armstrong made a timely interception to end the Bradford threat.
Again South could not generate much offense and had to punt, giving Bradford the ball at midfield. This time the South defense stepped up to the task. Now it was Bradford that was doing 3 plays and punt. Again South found themselves in a familiar position, first and 10 on their own 22. They did manage a first down when Joe Maleski caught a Josh Flynn pass. South attempted a fake punt when their drive stalled, but Bradford was ready and denied the attempt. Bradford again started their drive close to midfield, at their own 46. Josh Flynn put them in the hole with another sack, and on a 4th and long they punted.
Early in the 2nd quarter TVS recovered a Bradford fumble on the Bradford 37. It was one of the few times that TVS worked with a short field that night. Justin Flynn carried the ball for a first on the Bradford 27. A hold would move the ball back, and it looked like the Panthers would be snakebit again. But Anthony Armstrong would cross the goal line and Gary Strong would score on a 2 point conversion to put TVS within one TD, 14-8.
Bradford shifted gears with their offense, they dusted off a playbook from back in the day. This next possession they played some smashmouth football. Most of their plays were inside the tackles and during the series they even used the old T formation - something rarely seen on a high school field these days. Somewhere Woody Hayes must have been smiling. Bradford moved the ball from their 28 to the Panther 19 using this technique. Once in the redzone Bradford tried to cross up the Panthers by going to the air. Again Anthony Armstrong was ready and made his second pick of the night. South had their backs against the wall. Initially it looked like TVS was going to work their way out of their predicament. Justin Flynn caught a pass from brother Josh Flynn. But South moved backwards from there. South coughed up the ball on the 3 yard line and a RailRoader fell on it. It did not take Bradford long to capitalize and they were up 20-8 at the half.
Bradford roared out in the second half, driving the ball to the TVS 18. But the TVS defense stiffened forcing a 4th and 3 for Bradford, they fumbled the ball and John Smith covered it, ending another threat. The teams exchanged punts and when South punted in the first part of the 4th quarter a penalty moved the ball from midfield to the Panther 35. Bradford worked with the short field and scored another TD to go up 28-8.
Armstrong took the helm for the Panthers as they went to a no-huddle with about 5 minutes left in the game. It began as a good drive, Scott Leedy had a nice catch for a first down. Armstrong connected with another receiver to move the chains again. But all was for naught as an interception on the three yard line ended the last possession for South.
“It was a frustrating night”, reported Coach Meyer, “We did not take advantage of opportunities on both offense and defense. Tackling was also a problem”. I mentioned to the coach that I saw a couple of mental mistakes that Anthony Armstrong had made, but when I looked back at the night - he had made up for it with 2 interceptions and a TD, a good night by anyone's standards. He responded that, “Anthony is one of those guys that just keeps trying, he always bounces back”. Unfortunately TVS has lost senior offensive lineman and linebacker Travis Koeller for the season due to injury. It has been a frustrating season for TVS, let's hope that the team can bounce back for the game against Trail.
Leading stats for TVS: Rushing: Justin Flynn 8-53yds, Gary Strong 3-15yds. Passing: Anthony Armstrong 3-5 35yds; Josh Flynn 5-12 43yds 1TD. Receiving: Scott Leedy 3 32yds 1TD. Josh Flynn -2 sacks, Bryan Dalton 14 tackles, Travis Koeller 13 tackles. Finally, it is worth noting that TVS had the penalty flag thrown their way 17 times while Bradford was only rung up 5 times by the men in stripes. Comments: email: Chris Tilton <mailto:email: Chris Tilton>