The Van-Far/Community R-VI football co-op football team prevailed over Winfield with a 20-16 Senior-Night victory in the teams’ final regular season game of the year.
With the October 19 win, Van-Far secured the No. 4 seed and hosts rival Bowling Green for a heated rematch in the Class 2, District 5 game in Vandalia at 7 p.m. Friday, September 26.
“That was kind of the carrot I hung out all week after the Bowling Green game. I said we’ll be able to play them again for sure if we get a win next week. I think that helped keep the guys focus,” said Van-Far head coach Blake Logan. “…We had a lot of community support the last time we played them and we’re hoping it can be the same this week.”
After Ethan Gooch’s fumble on Van-Far’s first possession allowed an immediate 8-0 Winfield lead within the first two plays of the game, Van-Far knew a Senior-Night victory would have to be earned.
Twelve plays later, Van-Far rallied down to Winfield’s 11 yard line only to finish the drive four-and-out and remain scoreless for the rest of the first quarter.
The Indians halted Winfield’s first drive of the second quarter and Van-Far started its assault from their opponent’s 38 yard line.
Gooch advanced the ball to Winfield’s 27 and after a short loss and two failed passes, Gooch connected with Logan Boyd for a fourth-down, 29-yard touchdown pass to trail Winfield 8-6 with a failed two point conversion.
Through the remaining minutes of the first half, the Indians scooped up two fumbles but couldn’t put up any points for an edge on Winfield. An interception in Van-Far’s final second-quarter drive kept the score 8-6 at half time.
Van-Far started its first drive of the third quarter from their own 41 yard line. In the same position three plays later, Gooch connected with Devontay Wilkerson for a 59-yard pass to take a 12-8 lead. A successful two-point attempt left Winfield trailing by six points at 14-8.
Two drives later, Winfield picked off Gooch for the second time of the night and scored in the following drive for a narrow 16-14 Van-Far lead.
In the final quarter, the Indians took possession at their own 46 yard line after a failed Winfield drive. Gooch advanced the ball to midfield and after a failed pass attempt, Wilkerson marked first down at Windfield’s 39 yard line. The Indians drove to the 21 yard line and Boyd scored on fourth down with a 21-yard keeper for a 20-16 lead after a failed two point conversion.
The Indians later covered up Winfield’s second-down fumble after a bad snap on the Van-Far 34 and took possession on their own 46 yard line. The Indians moved down the field into a goal-line scoring position but three consecutive flags brought Van-Far back to the 21 yard line to end the drive four and out.
“In the past, we’ve not been so lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to recover fumbles but the other night we were…,” Logan said.
Winfield had time enough for two plays in the final seconds before time ran out and the Indians claimed victory.
“We just kept fighting and it was an extremely good feeling to take Winfield down for the first time in a few years and to know we get another shot at Bowling Green,” Boyd said.
Van-Far had 128 passing yards and 186 rushing yards for the game.
Gooch tallied 128 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gooch ran for 82 yards.
Boyd carried for 50 yards for one touchdown and had two receptions for 49 yards for one touchdown. Wilkerson had three rushing yards and 54 receiving yards for one touchdown.
“The line did an extremely good job of protecting for Ethan,” Logan added.