The Van-Far/Community R-VI football lost its bid at winning the inaugural “Wagon Wheel” award, as sponsored by The Vandalia Leader and Bowling Green Times, when they lost to Bowling Green last Friday night, 52-30.
For most of the first half, the game looked much like the thriller that came down to the final minute of the fourth quarter in 2017.
Both teams exchanged leads up through the final two minutes.
Then an official gave the Indians’ offense the wrong down when in the red zone.
What followed was a desperate fourth down and the Bobcats taking the momentum for the rest of the game in the 22-point victory.
“It’s unfortunate that during a critical time in the game with 40 seconds left in the first half, we were moving the ball and the game film clearly confirms that we were denied the correct number of downs,” said Indians’ head coach Kevin Baldwin. “After a clearly visible first down, quarterback Eric Hombs ran right for a gain of five yards taking us to the nine yard line. During Eric’s run the down marker clearly shows on film that his run was our first down run. On second down, we ran option to our left, pitching the ball to Verlyn Johnson for a one-yard loss, taking us to the nine yard line. At that point the game announcer indicated that it was third down and nine from the nine yard line. As I sent the third down play in, I was informed that the down box was wrong and the chain crew indicated it was fourth down. So I called a time out so we could protest being denied a third down attempt, and call a more appropriate fourth down play. We all knew that the down box was wrong but unfortunately our plan of running down the clock and scoring right before half was derailed when the incompetent official in charge of keeping track of the downs chose to support the down box instead of his own count, the game announcer, our coaches, and many fans trying to tell him that the down box was wrong.”
Before the big mistake by officials, Hombs scored on a 37-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter to cut Bowling Green’s lead to 7-6.
After Morgan Slatten ended one Bobcats’ drive with an interception, Verdell Johnson took advantage of his opportunity by scoring on an 83-yard touchdown run. Hombs’ two-point run gave the Indians a 14-7 lead.
Bowling Green responded with two straight scores to go up 21-14 before the officials made a mistake with the correct number of downs.
On that fourth down, Verdell Johnson’s throw was intercepted in the end zone.
A 44-yard Bowling Green passing play with eight seconds left was followed by a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 31-14 lead.
In the third quarter, Hombs connected on an 87-yard touchdown strike to cut the game to 38-22.
Unfortunately, Bowling Green added two more scores before the Indians answered on Verlyn Johnson’s five yard touchdown run. Hombs’ two-point conversion pushed the score to 52-30.
The Indians had 190 yards passing and 233 on the ground for 423 total yards of offense. Hombs completed 8-of-19 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. He also had 22 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown.
Verlyn Johnson tallied 17 carries for 24 yards and one touchdown with three catches for 42 yards.
Verdell Johnson had two carries for 95 yards and one touchdown along with one catch for 23 yards. Holtkamp added his one catch for 87 yards and one touchdown. The Indians will travel to Palmyra this Friday night to take on the Panthers at 7 p.m. in district play.