NEW MADISON – Coming off of last week’s tough loss to Ansonia, the Tri-Village Patriots dominated Tri-County North’s Panthers in the second half of a key WOAC contest by a count of 55-20. In a game that was close at halftime, the Patriots used a combination of big plays and a steady defensive effort to roll over TCN in a game played under ideal weather conditions in New Madison.
Senior Paul Brewer returned the opening kickoff to the Panthers’ 41 yard-line, setting up a quick TV touchdown drive, highlighted by three Braden Keating completions and Reed Wehr’s three-yard run to the end zone, the first of what would be five scores for the senior running back. With Keating converting the first of his five extra-point kicks, the Pats led 7-0 with 9:58 on the clock.
Tri-County took the ensuing kickoff and moved down to the TV 44 before being stopped on fourth and four. Tri-Village took over on downs and seemed unable to move the chains but in one of the key plays of the contest Wehr ran for 11 yards on a fake punt to the TCN 43. The next play saw Wehr take it to the house and Keating’s kick made it TV 14-0 with 3:55 left in the opening stanza.
North’s ground game took over the next two possessions with senior running back Colton Van Winkle pounding away inside and senior quarterback Logan Flory darting outside. The twosome gashed the Patriot defense repeatedly with Flory scoring from eight yards out at the 8:12 mark of the second quarter to make the score 14-7 following Garner Parlett’s conversion kick.
North recovered a TV fumble at the Panthers 34 on the next possession and moved down the field, with freshman Peyton Fannin scoring from one yard out, making the tally 14-13 with 2:40 left in the half. After a TV offside penalty on the extra point try, TCN went for a two-point conversion only to come up short.
Reed returned the following kickoff from his own 23 to the Panther 33, setting up a Keating to junior Lucas Howell completion to the 21 and a Keating touchdown pass to Noah Finkbine with 1:29 on the clock and a 21-13 halftime lead.
TV Head Coach Matt Hopkins and staff made some defensive adjustments at intermission and were, for the most part, able to contain the Panther ground game in the second half. The Patriots scored quickly in the third quarter: Wehr took a pitch around end for a 51-yard score at the 6:49 mark, followed shortly thereafter by a Keating to senior Tanner Printz scoring pass from the TCN 8 for a 34-13 lead with 4:33 remaining.
North answered back as Flory gave the visiting fans some hope with a short run, cutting the TV lead to 34-20 with 1:48 showing on the clock. Wehr quickly squashed any remaining doubt as to the game’s outcome by returning the kickoff 80 some yards for his fourth touchdown, slamming the door on North’s comeback, giving the Pats an insurmountable 41-20 advantage.
The fourth quarter saw TV complete the scoring on short runs by Wehr and Keating, making the final score 55-20 as the Patriots saw their record go to 5-1, 4-1 in league play.
Unofficially, Wehr had 7 carries for 121 yards, a reception for 35 yards, two kickoff returns for 124 yards, and five touchdowns. Keating, who came into the game leading the WOAC in passing, was 12-17 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns, as well as scoring on a short run and converting 5 extra-point kicks. Printz, the league’s leading receiver, had 6 receptions for 81 yards and a score while Finkbine added 3 catches for 29 yards and a score. Freshman kicker Cora Gutierrez was a perfect 2 for 2 on extra points, making her 8 for 10 on the season.
For the Panthers, Van Winkle, the WOAC’s leading rusher, toted the pigskin 30 times for 190 yards, 130 in the first half, while Flory ran 16 times for 140 yards and two scores.
After falling to 3-3, 2-2 in conference action, the Panthers will try to regroup as they host Preble Shawnee in Lewisburg next Friday night. The Patriots entertain Arcanum’s Trojans on Homecoming Night in New Madison next week as they try to keep pace with the Tigers of Ansonia in the race for the WOAC title.