At halftime of its Homecoming game Friday night with Mark Twain, the Van-Far/Community R-VI Indians football team had to do some soul searching.
After all, they were shutout in the first half, had two early fumbles, and under 40 total yards of offense.
Whatever was said in the locker room at halftime by players and coaches, it worked.
The Indians scored on their very first play of the second half and rallied for a 28-21 victory to win their first ever Farmers Cup, a tradition started just a few years ago.
In the Leader’s research, the last time the Indians beat the Tigers appears to be 1997, when they opened the season with a 33-12 victory. The Indians went several years without playing Mark Twain before they recently re-added them back on the schedule just a few years ago.
“I challenged the kids (at the beginning of the year) to try to find a way to do something to set them a part from the teams of the past,” said head coach Kevin Baldwin. “They found a way to do it tonight.”
It appeared early the Indians were going to have a good night when Blake Crider recovered an onside kick to open the game.
Unfortunately, the offense went three-and-out on their first drive.
Mark Twain’s offense was able to drive the ball to the Indians’ 19 before being stuffed on a fourth down running play.
A second three-and-out for the Indians’ offense was followed by Mark Twain’s Jace Barton scoring on a 24-yard touchdown run. Avery Epperson’s extra-point kick gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
With 8:22 left in the second quarter, the Indians were able to finally get a first down. Two plays later, quarterback Eric Hombs was stripped from behind and the Tigers recovered.
On the Indians’ next drive, Bryson Lay fumbled the ball away on the Indians’ 23.
Fortunately, the Van-Far/Community R-VI defense held their ground. Max Roed had a big tackle on 4th-and-3 to give the Indians back the ball.
At the start of the third quarter, the Indians’ turned to Hombs to take charge. He scored on the very first play with a 65-yard touchdown run. His two-point run gave Van-Far/Community R-VI the 8-7 lead.
After a big defensive stand, the Indians scored for the second time in four minutes. Hombs first completed a big third down pass to Morgan Slatten for 20 yards. Hombs then completed the 80-yard drive with a 53-yard touchdown run.
His second two-point run put the Indians up 16-7.
Early in the fourth quarter, Epperson missed a field goal that was followed two plays later by Hombs’ 82-yard touchdown run. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 22-7 with 8:18 left in the game.
Barton then made things interesting for the Tigers as he had a 55-yard touchdown run and Epperson had an extra-point to cut the lead to eight.
The Indians responded with a 69-yard drive. Hombs completed a pair of passes to Slatten totaling 25 yards. He later scored on a two-yard plunge for a 28-14 edge.
Barton, who had 333 total rushing yards in the loss, answered with a late 52-yard touchdown run with 29.2 seconds left but it was too late.
The Indians held on for the 28-21 win as they totaled 326 yards of total offense.
Hombs had 14 carries for 236 yards rushing and four touchdowns with one fumble. He also completed three passes to Slatten for 45 yards.
Verlyn Johnson finished with 13 carries for 52 yards.
The Indians will travel this Friday to Mokane to take on a 5-1 South Callaway squad.
The Bulldogs held off Clopton/Elsberry 42-20 last week, one week after crushing Bowling Green, 50-6.
They beat the same Mark Twain team three weeks ago, 39-0.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. as the Indians look to get over the .500 mark as they currently sit at 3-3 on the season.