ARCANUM — On Friday, Sept. 9, the Tri-County North Panthers won a hard-fought game against Cross County Conference opponent Arcanum, 21-14.
The win gives the Panthers a 2-1 overall record and they remain unbeaten, 2-0, in CCC play.
“I want to applaud Arcanum and coach Powers, I think he had his guys well-prepared and it was a hard battle the entire game,” said North coach Bill Derringer. “But our kids never quit. I think we broke down a little bit on the last few drives, but when we had to rally back with four minutes left, they got it done.”
It was a defensive battle throughout the game. In the first quarter, neither team moved the ball very much. Both suffered a number of 3-and-out drives with the exception of Tanner Booth, who recovered an Arcanum fumble. But the Panthers were unable to take advantage of the turnover and settled for a scoreless first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Trojans had a pass picked off by Drake Coleman, who stopped a decent Arcanum drive. With 2:45 left, the Panthers ran a student-body right run and raced 44 yards for the first touchdown of the game. This was the only score in the first half, with TCN sporting a 7-0 lead.
But the Trojans responded after the break. On their first drive, Arcanum compiled a 16-play drive and scored on an 18-yard run but missed their point-after attempt, making the score 7-6. After that drive, the game went back into a defensive struggle with a number of key mistakes on the part of North killing a potential scoring drive. Some of those mistakes were easy pass drops and penalties which wreaked havoc on the a TCN offense which already had its hands full against a stingy Arcanum defense.
But luck was on the side of the Panthers, as on the last play of the third quarter, they scored on a halfback pass from Zach Edgin to Braden Gray for 29 yards into the end zone. The catch was Gray’s lone reception in the game, and it gave Tri-County North a 14-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. The play was made despite North having only seven total offensive plays in the third quarter on two possessions.
The score remained constant until, with a little more than four minutes left in the game, Arcanum scored a touchdown pass to their fullback to tie the game at 14-all after a successful 2-point PAT. The last drive didn’t start off well for the Panthers, with a penalty against TCN which placed the ball back down to the 8-yard line. But the Panther offense was not deterred — they began their drive to try and win the game.
At one point, North faced a 4th-and-2 situation.
“I said to myself and to the team, that if we don’t get this, we probably don’t deserve to win,” said Derringer. “I trusted our offense to get the two yards and they made it somehow.” With 14 seconds left in the game, the Panthers scored on their last play on a dash by Tanner Booth to seal the victory with a 21-14 win.
“This is a character-builder — we’ve got to get better,” said Derringer. “We made a lot of mistakes, dropped some passes — we got to work on some things. I’m going to give the kids all the credit. I really didn’t do much, I thought we were not very crisp in the game, but they made it happen. We will work on stopping those four-yard runs up the middle and find ways to get our defense off the field.
“We have work to do, but I’m happy for the win.”
Bo Hendrickson led the team at quarterback with seven completions out of 17 attempts, for 71 yards. Booth was once again the power back for the Panthers — he had 15 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Edgin, Alex Kerby, and Booth each had two receptions in the game, with Edgin having 25 yards and Kerby 27 yards. Clifton Conley had a lone catch for 11 yards. On defense, Chase Gunder led the team with 13 total tackles. Booth contributed with nine tackles and one tackle for loss. Liam Downing, Dakota Dixon, and Drake Coleman each had eight stops on the night. Edgin and Preston Jackson had seven tackles. Conley, Chandler Sproles, and Wyatt Hutchins each had five stops, while all three combined for six total tackles for loss.
Tri-County North will face off against CCC foe Mississinawa Valley at home on Friday, Sept. 16.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH