TIPP CITY — The Tri-County North Panthers football team rolled to a 36-19 win over Cross County Conference opponent Bethel on Friday, Sept. 23, to remain unbeaten in league play.
North used its power running game to amass 331 yards rushing and four touchdowns to gain its fourth victory on the season.
“I think the biggest thing I can say is the name Tanner Booth,” said North coach Bill Derringer. “He carried the team Friday night. It’s been a long time since I gave a back 36 times in the game. On the other side of the ball, he had nine tackles, three passes broken up, and two tackles for loss defensively. He just had quite a night for us.”
North established control early in the first quarter. A long pass play was negated by a holding penalty, which stalled the drive on three plays. After the Bethel punt, the Panthers gave the ball to Booth, who ran the ball six consecutive plays for a score.
When North lined up to kick a point-after, the Bees were offsides, which spotted the ball at the 1-yard line. From there, the Panthers handed the ball to Booth for the two-point conversion and North was up 8-0.
No other scoring occurred for the rest of the quarter.
Bethel answered back in the second quarter, scoring on a pass to a back out of the backfield at 10:38. They went for a two-point conversion but failed and trailed 8-6.
On the next drive, North ran three rushes before a play action pass to Gavin Overholtz for a touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion run, the score was 14-6.
But Bethel didn’t fold up — the Bees scored on a deep pass to a speedy receiver into the end zone to close the gap to 14-13.
North followed with a second Booth touchdown with :19 in the half. A Zach Edgin point after kick was good, and the score was 22-13 at the half.
“We have Overholtz back from a concussion,” said Derringer. “He was the go-to guy receiving for us.”
The third quarter didn’t start off well for the Panthers, as a fumbled kick return was recovered by Bethel. But the defense stepped up and stopped the drive on downs to make up for the mistake. That critical possession increased momentum for North and the next drive drove down the gridiron 85 yards on 13 plays and ended with an Overholtz nine-yard run and a 29-13 score at the end of the third quarter.
The final quarter belonged to TCN, as Booth earned his third touchdown of the game on a 2-yard plunge, making it 36-13. North was able to drive against the Bees down to the Bethel 5-yard line, but failed to score.
With only 3:40 remaining in the game, Bethel hit a 70-yard pass which the receiever was tackled inside the Panther 20-yard line. The Bees eventually scored and after an onside kick, North sealed the victory.
“I want to say our kids responded in the second half, the defense played much better in the half. But we aren’t looking ahead. Covington is undefeated and St. Henry beat Eaton. These are top-notch teams,” Derringer said. “Our kids are going to be jacked up. Covington is going to be the biggest game of the year thus far, they have won the league several times recently.”
Senior quarterback Bo Hendrickson was 6-of-8 for 137 yards passing and one touchdown. Booth carried the ball 36 times for 250 yards and three scores. Overholtz added five carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 110 yard and a touchdown.
On the defensive side, Chase Gunder led the Panthers with 10 stops from his middle linebacker spot. Booth, Liam Downing and Dakota Dixon each had nine tackles. Matt Dreischarf and Preston Jackson each made six tackles, while Clifton Conley, Chandler Sproles, and Wyatt Woodyard each had four tackles.
“Chase Gunder is our great middle linebacker,” Derringer said. “Dakota Dixon has been a strength for us on the lines. Sproles didn’t have a lot of tackles, but he’s also stepping up for us. Liam Downing started as a sophomore safety. They passed quite a lot and saved us from several touchdown-saving tackles.”
“We didn’t do so well defensively,” Derringer said. “We didn’t tackle very well as a team. Bethel gained a lot of extra yards because we didn’t do so well — we defended between the tackles but they would get around us and we didn’t step up to tackle.”
“The last five games are tough and every one of them will make you tackle well in the open,” Derringer said. “We have to do a better job of tackling. Our offense carried the team this time.”
Tri-County North is now 4-0 in the CCC and 4-1 overall. They will play next Friday, Sept. 30 against an undefeated Covington for homecoming.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH