NEW PARIS — Dom Huffman ran for an 89-yard touchdown and scored on a 39-yard interception return as National Trail won its second game in as many tries — defeating Ansonia 30-20 on Friday, Sept. 25.
National Trail continued its momentum from the team’s win over Jefferson a week prior, using just enough defense and a few big plays to earn its first home victory of the season.
Huffman opened up the scoring with an interception on Ansonia’s first offensive play from scrimmage, taking it back for a 39-yard score. A direct snap to Ben Sullivan resulted in a two-point conversion and the Blazers led 8-0 four minutes into the game.
Ansonia found the scoreboard after a long drive filled with runs ended in a one-yard touchdown run. The Tigers went for two and tied the game up heading into the second quarter.
The Blazers responded with their own march down the field as Sullivan ran one in from 16 yards out. On the point after, Sullivan received the ball again and plowed his way in for two points. National Trail led 16-8.
Sullivan was a key player on both sides of the ball as the junior played fullback and middle linebacker, setting the tone. “He’s an unbelievable kid, he does anything we ask him to do, and he does it 100 percent,” said National Trail head coach Randy Kerns. “He played a great game tonight, not only running the ball, but I was impressed with him at inside linebacker. He’s really starting to figure it out.”
National Trail looked to be in trouble after the defense forced a punt from Ansonia, but the return was mishandled and the Blazers were backed up to their own 10-yard line.
Two plays later, Huffman appeared to have nowhere to go on a run to the right side of the line — then a plant, a cut, and Huffman was off to the races for an 89-yard touchdown run.
Sullivan again had no problem barreling his way through the Ansonia line on the point-after and the Blazers took a 24-8 lead heading into the locker-room.
The second half was a penalty-filled affair, with both teams racking up several.
Trail came out flat and the Tigers took advantage, scoring on their first drive of the half. The Tigers were forced to keep pace with the Blazers and go for two, but they were unable to get across the goal line, making the score 24-14.
The seemingly high-powered National Trail offense from the first half was nowhere to be found after halftime, as drive after drive stalled due to a missed block or a penalty.
Luckily for the Blazers, Ansonia shared many of the same issues as they had two drives end suddenly with two fumbles in the half.
With 4:53 left to play, the Tigers put themselves in position to win as a 30-yard touchdown run made the score 24-20 with National Trail still out front.
Trail held the lead and the ball with 4:50 to play.
Starting on their own 40, Huffman picked up three rushing first downs and the clock ticked away.
With a minute and a half left, quarterback Michael Bane rolled left into a wide open field and found the end zone from 23 yards out to end the Tigers’ hope of a comeback.
The game ended with an interception by National Trail’s Michael Ray.
The victory marked the first one at home for Kerns, a 2005 graduate of National Trail. “We didn’t start off on the right foot, but those were really good teams in the first two weeks,” Kerns said. “It’s nice to get one at home — the kids deserve it. I’m glad we came out on pee-wee night and got the win.”
National Trail is now 2-3 on the season. They travel to 0-5 Arcanum on Friday, Oct 2.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.