TigerHawks withstand warriors and weather

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NFV in District 4 drivers seat:
TigerHawks withstand warriors and weather

Brian Smith
Contributing Writer

 

 

   North Fayette Valley weathered a fast South Winn start and a long weather delay to record a hard-fought 44-34 win in a clash of unbeaten teams on Friday night in West Union. The win puts NFV drivers seat for the District 4 title.

   The Warriors started the game with a lightning strike of their own, a halfback pass on the first play from scrimmage which caught the TigerHawks flatfooted. The play went for a 65 yard touchdown and gave South Winn an early lead only seconds into the game.

NFV stopped the two point conversion, leaving the score at 6-0. South Winn then proceeded to force the TigerHawk offense into a three and out, and the Warriors were riding high with momentum going into their second possession.

   After a long South Winn touchdown was called back on a holding penalty, the Warriors faced a 3rd and 15 on their own 47. On the next play, Tyler Johansen intercepted a pass over the middle and returned it to the South Winn 43. From there, the TigerHawk offense found its rhythm and began to pound out some yards on the ground. After converting on 4th and inches, the TigherHawks had the ball 1st and 10 on the South Winn 17. Later, Trevor Hurd hit Josh Mackey with a pass in the left flat setting up a 1st and goal for NFV on the South Winn four. Mackey blasted over on the next play for a touchdown. The one point conversion try failed, and the score was 6-6 with 3:51 remaining in the first quarter.

   South Winn responded by returning the ensuing kickoff to their own 44, followed later by a long touchdown pass of 51 yards on a third and five play. The TigerHawks once again thwarted the two point conversion try, but the Warriors led 12-6. Not to be outdone, the TigerHawks returned South Winn’s kickoff to their own 40, giving them good field position to mount a drive. They did just that, aided by Derrick Kuehner’s 33 yard scamper on the first play. Seven plays later the TigerHawks scored on a 6 yard run by Mackey. The two point conversion try was no good, making the score 12-12.

   South Winn drove deep into TigerHawk territory on their next drive, aided by a couple of penalties and converting two fourth down opportunities. With a first and ten on the NFV 13 yard line it appeared that South Winn was in position to take the lead once again. However, Kuehner tipped a pass, and made a diving catch of his tip, while keeping his feet inbounds for an interception. The play has been nominated for the LSB Play of the Week on KWWL, Kuehner’s second such effort this year.

   The TigerHawks took over on their own 3 yard line and proceeded to drive the ball 97 yards in four plays, 73 yards coming on a burst up the middle by Mackey. Kuehner ran the ball in from the 15, and with a Mackey run for the two point conversion the TigerHawks took their first lead of the game at 20-12.

   “I was proud of our kids for not panicking when we fell behind early. They went out and tied it up twice and then just went on from there to eventually take the lead right before the delay,” noted NFV head coach Bob Lape.

   With 5:38 remaining in the half, officials cleared the field and the bleachers due to lightning in the area. It was more than two and a half hours before the teams were able to come back out and complete the game.

   “We had talked about the possibility of a delay with our players so I don’t really feel it affected us too much. We just kept telling our kids during the break to relax and we were able to treat it like halftime, even though it was much longer than the usual halftime,” explained Lape.

   The game resumed with South Winn receiving the kickoff and starting a drive from

its own 34 yard line. Facing a fourth down and three in their own territory the Warriors decided to go for it, but NFV’s defense was up to the task. A quarterback keeper was stopped short of the mark, and the TigerHawks took over on downs at South Winn’s 42 yard line. NFV then moved the ball down the field on a ten play drive that ended in an 8 yard TD run by Kuehner as time wound down in the first half. After a two point conversion run by Mackey was good, the TigerHawks left only 14 seconds for the Warriors to try to respond. NFV went into the abbreviated half time period with a 28-12 lead.

   The 16 point cushion didn’t last long, however, as NFV fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and South Winn recovered on the TigerHawk 19. It only took one play for South Winn to score, a quarterback keeper up the middle. The Warriors completed a pass in the end zone for the two point conversion, and just like that it was 28-20 with only 11 seconds gone in the 3rd quarter. The NFV offense went back to work, mounting a eight play drive that was capped off by a 35 yard dash into the end zone by Kuehner. When Hurd bootlegged around the left side untouched for the two point conversion, the TigerHawks had regained their 16 point lead at 36-20.

   South Winn was persistent, and put together a 61 yard drive, ending in a one yard TD plunge with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter. The two point conversion was no good, leaving the score NFV 36 South Winn 26. The back and forth scoring continued, as the TigerHawks drove it 70 yards for another score. Mackey highlighted the drive with two long gains, the second one resulting in a 32 yard TD. The two point conversion was good, giving NFV a 44-26 advantage.

   Phil Kleve put an end to the next South Winn drive, intercepting a deep pass down the middle on a third down play that gave the TigerHawks the ball at their own 37. After an NFV punt, South Winn drove to the TigerHawk 4 yard line and faced a fourth and goal with 10:04 remaining in the game. The NFV defense held, forcing an incomplete pass and taking over the football on downs deep in their own territory.

   A couple of penalties and a partially blocked punt put the Warriors in position to score again, which they did on a 4 yard TD run with 7:08 remaining. The two point conversion was good, and the score was NFV 44 South Winn 34.

   NFV avoided a costly mistake on the next series when Nash Lansing alertly jumped on a fumble near the TigerHawk 40 yard line. After punting the ball away, NFV got one last stop from its defense, this time denying a 4th down and ten play that came up just short of a first down for South Winn after a measurement. From there, the offense picked up a couple of first downs to run out the clock and secure a 44-34 win.

   “Our defense took a little time to get comfortable with the pace that South Winn likes to set with it’s no huddle offense, but once they did they defended it well. We held them to less than 50 per cent completion and intercepted three passes, so overall we did a nice job defensively,” observed Lape.

   The TigerHawks will prepare this week for their homecoming game against MFL Mar-Mac on Friday, Oct. 11. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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