It was an extremely challenging first half for the Van-Far/Community R-VI football team when they traveled to St. Peter’s last week to take on an undefeated Central homeschool squad from Arnold.
Before the game, officials informed head coach Kevin Baldwin that his players were wearing illegal knee pads, a uniform violation they weren’t made aware of in week one.
This even caused coach Tom Roth to go and find some “legal” pads before the game started so many players could have them for the game.
Mix in a rare Saturday game, hot weather, being without an injured Parker Wallace who had more than 170 yards rushing in week one, and an upstart Central team looking for an upset, the Indians found themselves down 6-0 at halftime.
Fortunately, they recovered by outscoring the Panthers 32-6 in the second half for a 32-12 victory.
“Our kids faced a lot of distractions and out of the ordinary things that were beyond our control Saturday,” Baldwin said. “The first half of the game, we didn’t execute very well and found ourselves trailing at the half. Defensively, we played pretty good and kept ourselves in the game until we finally started executing on offense.”
After punting for the first time this season on their first possession against Central, the Panthers put together an opening 61-yard scoring drive.
The Panthers connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead. The Indians blocked the extra-point kick.
A bad snap led to a 23-yard loss for the Indians on the following drive.
After going three-and-out, Colten Jensen ended a Central drive by recovering a fumble.
On the next play, however, Eric Hombs dropped a snap that was recovered by Central on the Indians’ 21.
Van-Far/Community R-VI’s defense buckled down.
The Indians had two tackles for a loss totaling 18 yards that led to a punt.
On the punt, Trey Miller dropped the ball and recovered it on the Indians one-yard line.
The offense did take eight minutes of the second quarter on one drive marching the ball to Central’s 25 before failing to convert on fourth down.
With :53 seconds left in the half, Central surprisingly tried to convert on fourth down with the ball near midfield.
The Indians tried to take advantage of getting the ball on their own 48.
Hombs completed a 44-yard pass to Verlyn Johnson to get the ball to the three yard line.
After Hombs’ run was stopped at the line of scrimmage with :9 left, Hombs had a pass intercepted in the end zone when his intended target was not where the play called for them to be.
The Indians had 146 total yards of offense to Central’s 58 at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, Baldwin had to know things were going to turn out differently in the final two quarters.
Officials admitted to him that after checking the rule book, his team’s knee pads were legal after all.
Finally, something went right for the Indians.
The offense then marched 60 yards on 11 plays, scoring on Miller’s two-yard run. Hombs’ two-point run gave the Indians an 8-6 lead.
As the defense forced a punt, Miller’s solid return pushed the ball past midfield.
Van-Far/Community R-VI then marched 47 yards on nine plays scoring on Hombs’ two-yard touchdown run. His two-point run pushed the lead to 16-6.
Central fumbled the following kickoff that was recovered by Morgan Slatten on Central’s 39.
Though the drive ended on a failed fourth down conversion at Central’s seven, Jacob Garner recovered a Panthers’ fumble in the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Hombs’ keeper for two points pushed the lead to 24-6.
With 6:15 remaining, the Indians started a 57-yard scoring drive that finished with Hombs’ five-yard touchdown run. Miller’s two-point run pushed the total to 32-6.
Central did add a late touchdown that was set up by a 21-yard passing play but the Indians won by 20.
Hombs had 37 carries for 160 yards rushing and two touchdowns with one fumble. He also went 1-for-2 passing for 44 yards and one interception.
Miller had 20 carries for 68 yards and one touchdown. Jensen had five carries for 20 yards while Garner added nine carries for 42 yards. Verlyn Johnson had the one big catch for 44 yards.
Defensively, Garner had nine tackles, both Nathan Beatty and Kyle Ebers added six tackles, while Alex Flowers and Verlyn Johnson had four tackles a piece.
The defense forced five turnovers and allowed just 84 total yards, with only 26 coming in the second half. The Indians had 334 total yards of offense.
Next up for the Indians is road match-up with Montgomery County, their first EMO Conference opponent of 2017.
The Wildcats lost 28-14 to Hermann in week one and 28-16 to Winfield at home in week two.
“We are going to have to play much better this week against a tough Montgomery County team,” Baldwin noted.