LEWISBURG — A late push helped the Ansonia Tigers overcome the Tri-County North Panthers as North fell 22-21 on Friday, Oct. 2.
North was either tied or led for the majority of the game, leading 21-14 with just over five minutes to go, but after the Tigers scored to make it 21-20, they elected to go for a 2-point conversion, finding the end zone on the game-winning 2-point try to lead 22-21.
After forcing a punt on Ansonia’s opening drive, the Panthers drove 71 yards on the ensuing drive, moving the chains four times and capping the drive off with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by junior Luke Eby for the 7-0 lead.
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs on their next drive, but as the second quarter began, a fumble by North freshman Logan Flory handed the ball right back to the Tigers at North’s 15-yard line, setting up a 2-yard rushing TD to tie things up at 7-7.
Another fumble by the Panthers gave Ansonia the ball at North’s 33-yard line, and the Tigers found the end zone just six plays later on a 14-yard rushing TD to take a 14-7 lead.
With 7:32 remaining in the half, North began their next drive with a 35-yard pass from Flory to senior Braeden Rike to help move the drive along.
Just two plays later, Flory made another impressive move to break out of a sack and hit junior Brett Woodyard downfield for a 7-yard gain and a first down.
Facing a third-and-15, Flory’s pass fell incomplete, but a pass interference penalty on Ansonia extended the drive for the Panthers, moving them to Ansonia’s 31-yard line.
After two more first down conversions, Flory found Woodyard again, this time on a 2-yard passing TD to tie things at 14-14, sending the game to the half as Ansonia ran out the remaining 30 seconds.
“There were a lot of good things,” North coach Adam Hall said. “We moved the ball well on them.”
North began the second half on a positive note, driving down to Ansonia’s 7-yard line, including a big fourth down conversion on a 32-yard pass from Flory to Rike, but a strip-sack by the Tigers forced North’s third turnover of the game.
“We just weren’t getting the snap,” Hall said of North’s turnovers. “We’ve got to get better at it.”
Starting from their own 17-yard line, Ansonia flipped the field and moved the ball to North’s 17-yard line in 12 plays, but a stop on fourth-and-5 by senior Cooper Cole helped keep the Panthers in the game.
“We played good defense for most of the time,” Hall said. “It was a close game. There’s a lot to build on. We play them again in two weeks. So, there’s a lot to work on, but there’s a lot to build on too.”
Taking over at their own 17-yard line, North moved up to their 29-yard line, and a 69-yard run by freshman Jordan Foose put the Panthers at Ansonia’s 12-yard line.
Three plays later on fourth-and-5, Flory found Cole in the right corner of the end zone as he reached over an Ansonia defender to pull in the 6-yard TD reception, giving the Panthers a 21-14 lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.
On Ansonia’s next drive, the Tigers had gains of 11, 8 and 12 yards to get to North’s 15-yard line.
A facemask by the Panthers moved Ansonia to North’s 4-yard line, and the Tigers found the end zone on the next play with a 4-yard rushing TD.
While Ansonia could have attempted the extra point, of which they were 2-of-2 on the day, the Tigers elected to go for a 2-point conversion to potentially win the game with under six minutes remaining.
The Tigers snapped the ball and faced little resistance as they ran it in on the right side to take the 22-21 lead, the eventual final.
“It was a smart play by them,” Hall said. “They needed one to win it and they got it. We just weren’t able to make tackle on the play. It was a good play by them.”
With 5:02 remaining and a chance to take the lead, the Panthers turned the ball over on downs, not picking up a single yard in four plays.
The Tigers were then able to run the clock out and take home the 22-21 win.
North will have this week off, earning a first-round by for the first round of the OHSAA playoffs. The Panthers will travel to Ansonia for a rematch as they play in the second round on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.
“We’ll be ready to go,” Hall said.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles