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It was the tale of two halves for the Van-Far/Community R-VI cooperative football team this past Friday against a cooperative football squad from Clopton/Elsberry.
The Indians dominated the first half, winning the total yards of offense battle 182-80 with a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, Clopton/Elsberry scored 20 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a 20-6 victory.
“We scored on the second play of the game offensively and we had some nice drives but we didn’t capitalize once we got into the red zone,” said Van-Far head coach Blake Logan. “…Defensively I liked our effort. Offensively we lost focus on the end of our drives.”
It appeared early the Indians were going to cruise to an easy victory.
On their first possession, Ethan Gooch rushed for nine yars on first down before connecting on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Logan Boyd on just the second play. Devontay Wilkerson’s two-point converion rush attempt failed, keeping the score at 6-0.
Van-Far’s defense stepped up their game early as they stopped Clopton/Elsberry’s first drive on the Indians’ 25 yard line.
The Indians’ offense responded by marching 58 yards to take seven minutes off the clock before Lucas Robinson’s pass was intercepted in Clopton/Elsberry’s red zone and returned to the 32-yard line.
Van-Far ended the first half with a nine minute long drive with the help of Gooch’s 57 yards rushing to move the ball 86 yards to Clopton/Elsberry’s four yard line.
The Indian-Hawks’ defense responded with a six yard sack and a four yard loss on a second play.
A trick play involving Wilkerson throwing a pass was incomplete before Robinson’s fourth down pass was incomplete with 33.2 seconds left in the half. The Indian-Hawks made things interesting before halftime after reaching Van-Far’s 40-yard line before time ran out on their drive.
Van-Far’s Nick Barnes opened the third quarter with a surprise on-side kick that Van-Far was unable to recover.
Clopton/Elsberry took advantage of good field position near midfield. They connected on a 47-yard passing play and followed two plays later with a quarterback sneak from one yard out to tie the game. Charles Fraction’s two-point run was no good to keep the game at 6-6.
The Indian-Hawks then recovered an onside kick on their own 49-yard line though their drive stalled on Van-Far’s 20-yard.
After Van-Far’s offense went four-and-out, a punt was returned to their own 30-yard line and the returner appeared to fumble the ball back to the Indians but the officials didn’t call it a turnover.
Starting with the ball on the 30-yard line of the Indians, Clopton/Elsberry scored on a seven yard touchdown pass. A successful two-point conversion pass made the score 14-6.
With 2:12 left in the third quarter, Van-Far started a drive on their own two yard line and marched 79 yards on 12 plays when 4th-and-12 conversion failed after a holding penalty was declined on Gooch’s seven yard run.
Eventually, Van-Far regained possession with 4:46 left on their own 32-yard line. The Indians marched down field behind Gooch’s 31-yard passing play to Boyd. Boyd added a 19 yard run as the Indians took the ball to inside the 25-yard line. Gooch was then tackled for an eight yard loss after a bad snap.
With 1:06 left on the clock on fourth down, Robinson decided to scramble instead of throw the ball up for grabs, rushed for 11 yards, and was tackled on Clopton/Elsberry’s 18-yard line.
The Indian-Hawks put the game away on the very next play when Fraction scored on an 82-yard touchdown run.
A failed two-point conversion pass kept the score at 20-6.
“Our body languages were pretty poor on that touchdown drive,” Logan added. “…After the game that was the biggest thing I was disappointed in…”
Clopton/Elsberry finished with 145 passing yards and 187 yards rushing for 332 total yards of offense. Van-Far had 96 yards passing and 218 yards rushing for 314 total yards.
Gooch led the Indians with 22 carries for 158 yards. He also completed 7-of-14 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown.
Boyd had 14 carries for 39 yards along with four catches for 80 yards and one touchdown.
“(Brandon) Billings did a nice job defensively and so did (Brian) Kurz,” Logan said.
The Indians will travel to take on a much improved Montgomery County team this Friday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are 3-2 with wins over Wright City, Clopton/Elsberry, and Hermann. Their losses have come to Orchard Farm and North Callaway as they were outscored 63-7 in those two contests.
Logan said the Wildcats have a speedy tailback, a tall receiver, and a quarterback with a good arm.