CAMDEN — The Preble Shawnee Arrows lost to Milton-Union, 20-7, in a tough Southwestern Buckeye League game on Friday, Sept. 23, at home.
“I think bad karma happened tonight,” said PS coach Matt Hopkins. “Defensively, I felt we played very well. We were mean, nasty, and we only gave up 20 points. But we didn’t have good special teams play and we didn’t execute offensively at all. Just too many penalties and mistakes.”
Both teams combined for 16 total penalties (11 for Milton, five for Shawnee.) However, the stats that told the tale were the five turnovers committed by the Arrows.
“When you suffer five turnovers, you won’t beat anyone,” Hopkins said.
Shawnee received the opening kickoff at the 13-yard line and returned it down to the 34-yard-line for decent field position. After gaining a first down on a 10-yard pass, the Arrows were forced to punt against a stout Bulldogs defense. Starting on their own 18-yard line, the Bulldogs drove down to midfield on eight plays, but on a third down play, senior Arrow defender Alex Steele created a sack to force M-U to punt.
After each team had one more possession which stalled out, the first quarter ended with a 0-0 tie.
In the second quarter, M-U scored the first touchdown of the game, by Krue Thrwaits who broke several tackles and ran in 65 yards for the score. The point-after kick was blocked by the Arrow defense, giving Milton-Union a 6-0 lead.
On the next drive, PS was fired up, moving the ball effectively against M-U until at midfield, they began to suffer. An incomplete pass, a holding penalty and an interception thrown by quarterback Kevin Ketring ended the drive.
The Bulldogs were able to score again on a slant pass for 15 yards. The PAT kick was good, and the score was 13-0.
Each team suffered a three-and-out drive following the touchdown, but on a Milton-Union punt, Shawnee muffed the ball, and it was recovered by the Bulldogs. A few short drives later, M-U tried a last-minute attempt at a touchdown, but a pass in the end zone was picked off by Ketring to end the half.
When Shawnee kicked off to the Bulldogs to start the second half, the visitors returned the ball 65 yards down to the Arrows’ 23-yard line. A few plays later, M-U plunged up the middle for a one-yard touchdown to increase their lead 20-0.
But the Arrows answered back in kind, conducting a 14-play drive for their lone touchdown of the night on an 11-yard run from Matt Hall.
The drive was highlighted by a key roughing the passer penalty and a fourth-and-two conversion. The point-after kick was good, and with 4:04 remaining, the score was 20-7.
“We switched from our normal offense to a spread option in the second half,” said Hopkins. “On that drive, it really worked out for us. We caught them a bit flat and confused with the adjustment.”
The fourth quarter turned out to be sloppy for the home team, as one drive which carried over from the third quarter ended on two sacks and a punt into the end zone for a touchback.
Milton-Union was held just short of midfield and was forced to punt. The punt shanked to the PS sidelines, giving the Arrows possession at their 44-yard line. But moments later, the Arrows threw another interception close to the endzone. The Bulldogs employed a power-running game to run out the clock, which was effective despite being forced to punt after burning up over four minutes of game time.
Shawnee had one more chance to rally back, but the Arrows’ final drive of the game ended once again on an interception which was nearly returned for a touchdown. The final two plays ended with Milton-Union’s quarterback taking a knee.
Both teams had 15 first downs on the night. M-U amassed 349 total yards Shawnee’s 229. Ketring was 11-of-26 for 94 yards passing and had three interceptions.
Eli Gibson ran eight times for 79 yards, Ketring added 41 yards on nine carries, Luke Lovely had seven rushes for 14 yards, and Hall had six carries for 17 yards and the lone Shawnee touchdown.
Austin Moore was the top receiver of the night, hauling in six passes for 60 yards. Gibson had three grabs for 20 yards, while Lovely and Austin Tutt each had one catch.
Defensively, John Powers led the team with nine total stops. Gibson, Hall, and Tutt each had eight tackles, while Gibson broke up three passes. Lovely and Colton Pugh each had seven tackles, while Steele also had seven stops, and one sack. Ketring had the lone interception against M-U, while Lovely had a fumble recovery.
Hall had the blocked PAT kick. Ketring, Gunner Crank, and Tanner Crabtree each had six tackles.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Hopkins. “This is what we’ve done two weeks in a row; we get too far behind and we try play catch up and it’s just too little, too late. We play poorly in the first half and we get better in the second half, but they build up just too much of a lead on us.”
“We had guys wide open in the passing game but we missed them too much,” Hopkins said. “Our turnovers and key miscues just killed us, and you can’t do that against a team like Milton-Union. But we are still sitting fairly well with a 3-2 season so far.”
Preble Shawnee is now 0-2 in the SWBL Buckeye Division. Their next game is on Friday, Sept. 30, on the road against Carlisle, who is also 3-2 on the season.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH