On Friday, Tartans fans were treated to a spectacular show as East and Northwest battled at Tartans Stadium. The game had more than its fair share of ups and down as the teams switched leadership four times during the game, still the game culminated in a narrow Tartans homecoming victory, 26-24. Tartans running back Kyle Flannery proved instrumental in the Tartan victory as he scored three of East’s four touchdowns, two of which were interceptions returned for touchdowns.
The game started with a Mohawk possession which ended with a fumbled ball that was recovered by East. Fumbles plagued both teams on Friday, though a majority of them ended without turnovers. A lack of offensive production which was dampened by penalties, fumbles, and dominant defenses proved to be the rule for the first half. Northwest’s offense was more productive than East’s and still managed to produce less than 120 yards of combined offense. East was even less productive as their offense had less than 30 yards of total offense.
The first drive that resulted in a touchdown was by Northwest who, led by Brayden Campbell, made their way down the field on the back of a few big plays and ended when Austin Newman charged his way to a touchdown. The next score was a field goal by Northwest’s Evan Throckmorton. At this point, East had attempted three drives, all of which had ended in turnovers. Things were looking dire for the Tartans when a sudden change in fortune came as Flannery intercepted a pass by Ashton Hall and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
The first half came to close not long afterwards and it seemed that the early defensive breakdowns by East were a thing of the past and Northwest’s defense still remained unscored on. At the time, it seemed likely that the game would remain a low scoring affair dominated by defense, but the game still had a long way to go.
The second half started and the Tartans had obviously used their halftime well. Their offense took off and they began to gain meaningful yardage. After the game, East’s head coach, Matt Miller, said that his team had assessed the situation and that they had decided to “changeup the second half with something in the playbook.” The Tartan’s offensive strategy made openings for their backs and they were able to begin a serious drive down the field. However, the Mohawk defense refused to lie down and took advantage of a fumble to reclaim the field. The Mohawk’s offense proved unable to perform and were forced to punt which setup East to make a drive that ended with East’s Tyler Winston pushing into the end zone giving the Tartans the lead for the first time in the evening.
Northwest and East flipped the ball back and forth with no major drives until the fourth quarter where East was forced back into a 3rd and 30 situation. East’s line was shredded by the Mohawk defense who blocked the ensuing punt, giving Northwest the ball inside East’s own 25.
A few plays later and Campbell scored giving Northwest leadership of the game again. The next seven minutes of the fourth quarter passed without a score until East gained the ball. The home team made a strong series resulting in a score by Flannery which gave East the lead back. Flannery personally kept the pressure on as he intercepted a pass in the next series and again returned it for a touchdown which put East in the lead by 8 going into the final 43 seconds of the game.
As Northwest fans started to pack up and some even began to depart, the Mohawks proved that as long as the clock still ticks, there is a chance for victory. Undaunted, the Mohawks made a heroic push towards the end zone and even though their rush was stopped, they pressed on with the pass. Ashton Hall, despite two interceptions and the lack of a completion in the game, was seemingly destined to find a receiver as he was able to make a 40 yard pass between the hands of two East defenders into the waiting hands of his own man inside the end zone on fourth down with 12.3 seconds on the clock. Suddenly, Northwest was back in the game needing a two point conversion to tie the game. Northwest’s offense lined up and on the other side, East matched them. Both sides determined to clinch victory that night, however, East’s defense proved the superior in those final seconds as they held Northwest and kept the final score of the game 26-24. After the game, Coach Miller said, he was “very proud of our kids,” a sentiment that is, without a doubt, shared throughout Sciotoville after such a hard fought victory.
The Tartans improve to 2-4 on the year and will travel to Beaver next Friday night to face off against the Eastern Eagles with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m.
The Mohawks, still seeking their first win of the 2018 campaign, will travel next week to Oak Hill to face the reigning SOC I champion Oaks.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT