CASSTOWN — The Tri-County North football team played against a very strong Miami East team Friday, Oct. 14, and came up short, 36-22.
The loss puts the Panthers out of contention to win or tie the Cross County Conference championship. North is now 4-4 on the season, but holds a 4-3 record in the CCC standings.
“This is our third straight loss — it’s the first time in seven years or more since this has happened to North,” said TCN coach Bill Derringer. “We knew this would be the toughest part of the schedule and it was going to be a challenge. We have not been able to get a win during that stretch unfortunately, but we need to turn things around for the last two games.”
“We struggled to stop the Miami East offense throughout the whole game,” Derringer said. “They just were able to get the yardage on the ground. They only threw four passes the entire game.”
In the first quarter, both teams had two possessions, but no touchdowns came from their efforts as both teams utilized a ball control-style offense. North suffered penalties which ended its first drive. The Panthers’ second drive suffered a lost fumble close to the Vikings’ red zone.
Miami East was able to put points on the board in the second quarter, to go up 15-0.
Miami East scored two rushing touchdowns in the quarter to build up a lead going into the halftime break.
“At the half, I told the kids that we were not out of it,” Derringer said. “Three possessions stalled on penalties and there was one turnover, but we allowed only 15 points. So we were going into the second half with confidence that we could make a comeback and with this.”
North did just that, scoring on the first drive of the third quarter on a 10-yard sweep from Tristen Hayslett to put the Panthers within striking distance at 15-7. However, Miami East answered back soon afterward with a touchdown of their own to increase their lead to 22-7 at the end of the quarter.
North didn’t give up, responding in the fourth quarter with a touchdown by Tanner Booth, making the score 22-14.
The final quarter turned out to be a much more offensive production by both teams, as the Vikings scored once again to go up 29-14.
With six minutes left in the game, North scored on a pass from Bo Hendrickson to Alex Kerby, taking the score to 29-22. On the next drive, Miami East took control of the closing minutes of the game and scored a big 87-yard pass to close out the game, 36-22.
“We had the most yards passing on the season tonight,” said Derringer. “We had good offensive production but just not enough to get the win. Miami East is a big and strong team, and I give them a lot of credit. This was only the first time Booth was held under 100 yards rushing. Their line was big, their backers filled the holes well.”
Hendrickson was 17-of-32 for 227 yards passing and one touchdown. Booth ran 22 times for 82 yards and one score. Kerby had four carries for 18 yards and a touchdown, while Hendrickson added 15 yards on four carries.
Kerby led the receiving corps with five catches for 90 yards. Senior receiver Trey Kehr, coming back from injury suffered during the first week of the season, returned to have five catches for 49 yards. Zach Edgin contributed with four receptions for 74 yards. Drake Coleman had two receptions and Clifton Conley had one.
On the defensive side for North, Chase Gunder led the Panthers with 18 tackles, while Booth had 17 stops. Coleman made nine tackles, and Dakota Dixon made seven. Preston Jackson had five stops, while Mason Dreischarf, Conley, and Wyatt Hutchins each had four tackles. Hutchins and Braden Gray each recovered a fumble.
On Friday, Oct. 21, Tri-County North will host their annual rivalry game against Twin Valley South. This clash features the battle for the Cat Trophy, which North has won the past seven years.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH