The Van-Far/Community R-VI football team knew last Friday night’s match-up with state-ranked Mark Twain would let them know how far the program has come depending on how they played against the Tigers.
After all, the Indians’ defense paced the team to a 2-0 start after shutting out their first two opponents by a combined score of 76-0.
For at least two quarters against the Tigers, the defense proved they were ready to go up against the best in the area after shutting out Mark Twain.
Unfortunately, the defense was completely exhausted at halftime as cramps and injuries took their toll in the second half as Mark Twain eventually ran away with a 41-0 victory.
“That was probably the best half of football the team has played there,” said Van-Far/Community R-VI head football coach Blake Logan. “(Anthony) Fairchild, (Jamie) Householder, and a collective group on defense, and playing against a stronger and bigger opponent, as well as who had speed, and for the most did their assignments and gave everything they had and that was great to see especially with a state-ranked opponent in the first half. And without three all-conference quality players watching from the sideline.”
Logan also noted that his team had five first year starters playing on both side of the ball.
The Indians opened the game with a little trickery as Wyatt McDowell handed the ball off to Householder, who ran the ball 24 yards to get to the Tigers’ 33-yard line.
Unforunately, quarterback Parker Wallace threw an interception four plays later on the two yard line. Though it was an interception, the play ended up being better than a fourth down punt.
Mark Twain nearly had an 85-yard touchdown run from running back Tyler Elledge but it was called back for a holding penalty.
The Indians’ defense put up a defensive stand and forced a punt, that was shanked out of bounds at the Tigers’ 27-yard line.
Van-Far/Community R-VI’s offense couldn’t respond. Wallace was sacked two times in a row for minus 13 yards.
The Indians regained the momentum on fourth down when punter Nick Barnes was run into on his punt for a roughing the kicker call. Van-Far/Community R-VI started their next drive on Mark Twain’s 27-yard line before another drive ended after four plays. The Indians’ defense responded moments later when Fairchild crushed Elledge, who was catching a short pass but dropped the ball due to the hit.
Another punt set up another drive on Mark Twain’s 34-yard line.
Two more incomplete passes and another sack led to another punt for the Indians.
Elledge, who ran for 419 yards in the season opener against then state-ranked Westran, had just 18 yards in the first quarter as Mark Twain had just 24 total yards of offense early.
In the second quarter, the Indians defense forced another turnover on downs, this time giving the offense the ball on the 36-yard line.
Wallace was intercepted three plays later near midfield to end another drive.
Penalties hurt the Tigers on their next drive after they marched the ball to the Indians’ 23-yard line.
The defense forced another turnover on downs on their own 18-yard line.
Both teams entered halftime tied at 0-0. The Indians only had 18 total yards of offense in the first two quarters while the Tigers had only 108 total yards, all on the ground.
“Overall, the defense kep us in the game and kept us in good field position,” Logan added. “We weren’t letting them go for distances for the most part. We weren’t capitalizing on stopping them on fourth down. Offensively, we just couldn’t capitalize.”
On the very first play of the third quarter, the Tigers set the tone as Elledge scored on a 51-yard touchdown pass as Fairchild’s leg cramped up on his effort to make a tackle near the line of scrimmage. A failed extra-point kick kept the score at 6-0.
The Indians offense went four-and-out near midfield only to have the same thing happen again. Elledge scored on a 49-yard touchdown run for a 12-0 edge.
On their next possession, the Tigers marched 55 yards on three plays and scored on Terry Monroe’s 21-yard touchdown run. He also scored a two-point conversion to go up 20-0. Several players were either cramping up or hurt during the next few minutes as Wallace was eventually picked off with 6:39 left on the Tigers’ 38-yard line.
After a 45-yard pass, Elledge then scored on a 17-yard touchdown run. A successful extra-point kick pushed the lead to 27-0.
“I’ve never seen a team so wore down at halftime,” Logan said. “They gave so much the first half. We were wore down in the second half…It was a dominoe effect and it started affecting everything…We weren’t quite ready for the situation.”
Two plays later, McDowell fumbled the ball after a completion. Mark Twain scored again after three plays after a 36-yard touchdown run from Caleb Hirner. Monroe’s two-point run pushed the lead to 35-0, forcing the mercy clock to go in effect with 3:47 left in the third.
Mark Twain added a seven yard touchdown run in the fourth for the 41-point win.
Wallace completed 8-of-22 passes for 19 yards with three interceptions. He also had 11 carries for minus 40 yards.
Trey Miller had six carries for 16 yards and one catch for zero yards.
Householder had three carries for 33 yards along with two catches for nine yards. Barnes was held to three catches for zero yards and two carries for three yards. He also had an incompleted pass.
Elledge led Mark Twain with 261 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. The Tigers finished the game with 431 total yards of offense, with 386 on the ground.
Up Next: South
Van-Far/Community R-VI hosts defending EMO Conference champion South Callaway at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 11.
The Bulldogs enter the game with a 2-1 record. They picked up wins over Clopton/Elsberry and Putnam County but have a loss against a talented Southern Boone squad.
Though South Callaway has graduated all but one starter on both sides of the ball, the team is fundementally sound with the help of 10 coaches.
The offense works out of the option while the defense is led by a returning all-state linebacker.