LEWISBURG — Tri-County North’s football team got into a shootout with non-conference opponent Troy Christian, eventually upending the Eagles 41-28 on Friday, Oct. 9.
The game had no shortage of offense either, with a total of five touchdowns being scored in the first quarter alone. The teams combined for 821 yards of total offense and 10 touchdowns.
“They just moved the ball up and down the field on us all night, so we had to fight for everything we got. They’re offense was really good. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball,” said TCN head coach Bill Derringer. “We obviously need to shore up some of our pass protection. I think as the game went on, we got a little better at stopping the run but they came out in the second half with a good plan that they were going to throw it, and they did. We have to work on that this week.”
North got on the board first when, just minutes after being crowned homecoming king, Logan Elmore took a pass 42 yards down to the 19 yard line. Just four plays later, Elmore scored on a seven yard run, putting the Panthers up 7-0 two-and-one-half minutes into the game.
It took just 20 seconds for Troy Christian to respond, however, when their running back took the ball 60 yards up the left sideline, knotting the game back at 7-7.
In about two minutes and 30 seconds, the Panthers scored again after a big return from Elmore. He finished the drive again, this time he punched the ball in from six yards out. The missed PAT gave North a 13-7 lead.
32 seconds after that score, Troy Christian took the lead after a 35-yard touchdown pass put them ahead 14-13.
“After their second score, our defense settled down. We started putting a lot more pressure. We were blitzing linebackers almost every single play just trying to make something happen,” said Derringer. “I think that was disrupting them a little bit.”
North got on the board once more late in the quarter, when quarterback Lane Gunder connected with Garrett Woodyard for a 5-yard touchdown. The Panthers went for two, converting successfully when Gunder hit Gavin Overholtz for the score, putting them up 21-14.
After the firework-loaded first quarter, the second quarter was scoreless and defined by turnovers.
North fumbled on their own 45-yard line before Elmore picked off Troy Christian deep in their territory.
The Panthers were unable to capitalize though, as Gunder threw an interception of his own with 1:50 left in the half.
Troy Christian came out slinging the ball around after halftime though, scoring on their opening drive off a halfback draw, tying the game at 21-21.
“We obviously need to shore up some of our pass protection. I think as the game went on, we got a little better at stopping the run but they came out in the second half with a good plan that they were going to throw it, and they did,” said Derringer. “We have to work on that this week.”
North responded two minutes later, when Gunder faked the handoff before keeping the ball himself up the middle for a seven-yard score, putting them up 28-21.
The Eagles were going to respond late in the third quarter, before North’s defense held tough on a series deep in Panther territory. Troy Christian went for it on fourth down from the four-yard line, when they failed to convert on the pass to the left side of the endzone.
North took over on downs and marched down the field, scoring on Gunder one-yard touchdown run with 9:45 remaining in the game, putting the Panthers up 35-21.
The Eagles scored on a two-yard run with 6:51 remaining, closing the deficit to 35-28. It was as close as Troy Christian got though, as Gunder scored on another one-yard touchdown run with 2:32 remaining, icing the game for North.
The victory, which earned Derringer his 100th career win, was also a much needed one for the program.
“We knew this was a big one. This was a critical win for us to bounce back from last week’s devastating loss. I’m really proud of our kids. We’re just going to try to keep it going for the next three weeks,” he said.
Elmore finished the game with 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns while also hauling in four receptions for 72 yards. Gunder went 9-for-15 through the air for 98 yards and a score while also rushing 11 times for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Woodyward added 80 yards rushing for the Panthers.
North hosts Miami East on Friday, Oct. 16 with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Jeremy Erskine may be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH