LEWISBURG — The Tri-County North football team added another victory to its record last week, beating Cross County Conference rival Mississinawa Valley 42-0 in front of a home crowd on Friday, Sept. 16.
“I think from the opening drive, we controlled the tempo of the game,” said North coach Bill Derringer. “At the half, we had rushed for 301 yards and almost 100 yards passing. Defensively, we had only given up 20 yards, 14 passing in the half. It was a big night for our varsity guys.”
The Panthers scored their first touchdown in their opening drive, from Tanner Booth who finished the drive with a 3-yard run. The Panther defense held the Blackhawks to a 3-and-out drive, forcing the visitors to punt.
On the first play of the second drive, senior running back Zach Edgin ran 80 yards on a sweep for a touchdown with 6:54 remaining. But the momentum ended temporarily for TCN on their third drive as they suffered a fumbled and lost possession. However, the Panthers’ stout defense held the MV offense on downs.
With only :44 left, Booth scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard to leave the score, 21-0, at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was an equally lopsided affair for the Panthers. On their next drive, senior running back Drake Coleman scored his first touchdown of the year on a 20-yard sweep, adding to North’s lead. For much of the remaining quarter, TCN was able to move the ball but failed to score until under a minute remaining. Booth broke through a line of defenders and crossed the goal line for an 8-yard score.
On the ensuing kickoff, MV fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the TCN defense. On the first play, with only 26 seconds left, Booth caught a pass out of the backfield and rumbled 24-yards for his fourth touchdown of the night. At the break, TCN was up 42-0. Zach Edgin was 6-for -6 on point-after kick attempts on the night.
“Booth is our workhorse,” said Derringer. “He didn’t see the field much, but when he did, he did incredibly well. He has 591 yards this season so far, and is a good receiver out of the backfield. As we head to the second half of the season, we might be asking more from him. We are planning on giving him the ball much as we need to. He’s hard to stop. Even against Brookville, he went over 100 yards rushing and Brookville was pretty stiff competition for us. When he starts playing full games, we need to really keep him healthy.”
Third quarter, all starters were pulled out, giving the younger, junior varsity players a chance to experience playing under the Friday night lights.
“We didn’t play any starters in the second half,” said Derringer. “We put in the young guys — the varsity was given a break, as we had the game under control. We have a stretch of tough teams coming up so we wanted to keep our guys healthy.”
Though many players were involved and the offense moved well against the MV defense, the backups were unable to score any more points in the game.
“They were a shotgun spread team, our backs were diving in front of the balls and knocked down six of them,” said Derringer. “We did recover four fumbles defensively, so we really did well. We turned the ball over once but we were plus-three in the turnover ratio.”
On defense, a total of 19 players registered at least one tackle on the night, with Chandler Sproles leading with four tackles and one tackle for loss.
Bo Hendrickson was 4-10 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Brian Stinson threw one pass, good for 12 yards. Booth totaled up 16 carries for 145 yards and three rushing touchdowns, along with his lone touchdown catch for 24 yards. Edgin had two carries for 96 yards and a score, Alex Kirby had five rushes for 55 yards, Coleman rushed twice for 28 yards and a score, while backups Tristen Hayslett, Dylan Curtin, and Jacob Brown totalled 14 carries for 73 yards, all in the second half.
Edgin led the receiving group with two catches for 31 yards. Booth, Hayslett, and Clifton Conley each had one catch.
“I think we did a good job of covering their receivers,” Derringer said. “When they did try to run the ball, our defense shut them down pretty well, and with them not having much of a running game we were able to put pressure on them and they were not very accurate with the passes. In contrast, we were able to run the ball at will,” he added.
“We had mixed emotions from the seniors about being pulled early, but they accepted my decision because if we had a senior hurt in the game, it would have been a disaster,” Derringer said. “The JV guys were able to move the ball but they just couldn’t score. They had a few chances but there were a few turnovers on downs.”
The win is the third straight for TCN, now 3-1 overall, and holding a 3-0 conference record. They will play next Friday, Sept. 23, at Bethel, who is 3-1 so far.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH