It appeared all the stars were aligned this year for the Van-Far/Community R-VI cooperative football team to get the Indians’ first win over rival Bowling Green since a 38-15 victory in 2006.
Van-Far coaches played a game of cat-and-mouse with injured starting quarterback Ethan Gooch and Bowling Green’s staff didn’t appear to know Gooch would be ready for the game.
“We wanted to keep them off balance,” said Van-Far head coach Blake Logan. “In practice, he seemed to be healthy and he came out and gave us a bit of a boost…It probably shocked some of the guys over there and uplifted some of our guys to start with.”
Van-Far led 14-0 at halftime and seemed poise for a rout in the second half.
Unfortunately for the Indians, Bowling Green scored two touchdowns in the first two minutes of the second half and held on late for a 21-20 victory.
Miscues were the major reason for Van-Far’s demise. The Indians had four fumbles, were on the wrong side of an onside kick, and tallied 130 yards in penalties.
“When you have four fumbles and 130 yards in penalties, you don’t deserve to beat anybody,” Logan said. “We did it to ourself…We just didn’t execute when it came down to the little things and that’s what beat us.”
Van-Far started the game ready to dominate the Bobcats. After their defense forced Bowling Green to go three-and-out, the Indians marched the ball 66 yards on six plays to score on Logan Boyd’s first of three touchdown runs. Boyd ran the ball in from 12 yards out. Gooch converted a two-point conversion run to push the lead to 8-0.
On the Bobcats’ first offensive play of the following drive, Devontay Wilkerson recovered a fumble on Bowling Green’s 38-yard line.
The Indians took advantage by marching 62 yards on nine plays. They overcame a couple of penalties and eventually scored on Boyd’s six yard touchdown run. A failed two–point conversion pass kept the score at 14-0.
Van-Far kicked an onside kick on the following kickoff that was recovered by Gooch.
Both Wilkerson and Gooch had 20-yard plus runs on the drive before Gooch’s fumble on the Bobcats’ 13 yard line.
Bowling Green finally put together a solid drive in the second quarter. They started on their own 39-yard line and marched 51 yards on 12 plays. Bowling Green had the ball on fourth down at Van-Far’s 10-yard line but the Indians defense stuffed the Bobcats’ running back to end the threat.
Van-Far’s late drive into Bowling Green territory behind Wilkerson’s 38-yard run ended on a fourth down as the Indians entered halftime up 14.
The Indians had 176 yards rushing and 201 total yards of offense in the first half while their defense held the Bobcats to just 86 total yards.
Bowling Green responded to whatever challenge their coach gave them with a needed halftime speech. They opened the second half with a picture perfect onside kick caught by a Bowling Green player on the sprint and taken to Van-Far’s 25-yard line.
After a Van-Far penalty, the Bobcats scored on a four yard touchdown run. A successful extra-point kick closed the gap to 14-7.
On Van-Far’s first offensive play in the third quarter, Woodrow Jackson fumbled the ball after a 19 yard run that was recovered on the Bobcats’ 28-yard line.
Back-to-back personal foul penalties on Van-Far helped the Bobcats march the ball the distance of the field in just four plays. They scored on a 26-yard touchdown run. An extra-point kick tied the game at 14.
The Indians needed a momentum killer and they got one with 5:47 left in the third when Gooch intercepted a pass.
Van-Far’s offense converted a big fourth and inches play to keep the following drive alive. The Indians scored on Boyd’s eight yard touchdown run with two minutes left in the third. A failed two-point conversion run kept the score at 20-14.
What was to be a squib kick turned into an onside kick and it failed at midfield. Bowling Green’s offense took advantage of the good field position and a personal foul facemask penalty. They scored on their fifth play after a 36-yard passing touchdown. The successful extra-point kick moved the score to 21-20.
The Indians were forced to punt after failing on the following drive to do any damage.
Van-Far’s defense then stepped up to stop the Bobcats on a fourth down to get the ball back with 7:26 left.
The Indians moved the ball to the Bobcats’ 38-yard line before Boyd fumbled the hand-off away to Bowling Green.
Gooch got the ball back for Van-Far with 2:37 left with a big interception and returned it five yards to the Indians’ 34-yard line.
A holding penalty was followed three plays later by a Van-Far receiver missing a block as Gooch was tackled.
Van-Far did strip a Bobcats’ running back of the ball that was recovered by Gooch on the Indians’ 21 but time ran out on Van-Far.
With Gooch leaving the game with an injury, quarterback Nick Barnes had his lone pass intercepted to seal the win for the Bobcats.
Van-Far won the offensive battle in total yards 351-211.
Boyd finished with 22 carries for 100 yards, one fumble, and three touchdowns. He also had two catches for 25 yards.
Gooch had 25 yards passing, one catch for 28 yards, and 23 carries for 121 yards.
Wilkerson tallied nine carries for 77 yards and completed one pass for 28 yards.
Van-Far finishes its regular season with a home game against Winfield this week. Winfield is 4-4 with wins over Clopton/Elsberry, Wright City, Warren County, and MMA.
“They have one of the best athletes on our schedule all year in Jerel Hull,” Logan said. “He’s a tough nosed kid you’re going to have to key on offensively and defensively.”
The Winfield game is also on Senior Night for the Van-Far/Community R-VI cooperative football program.
Currently, Van-Far sits in the No. 5 spot out of eight teams in the district standings. A win over Winfield would secure them the No. 5 seed and a rematch possibility with Bowling Green in the first round of districts. A loss might move Van-Far to the No. 6 seed if Highland wins their game with winless Louisiana.
1) Clark Co., 48.64
2) Palmyra, 35.42
3) Clopton, 28.6
4) Bowling Green, 27.27
5) Van-Far, 25.43
6) Highland, 24.33
7) Mark Twain, 23.5
8) Monroe City, 19.5