Tri-Valley’s Journey Falls Short in Title Game

Posted on:

< < Back to

All you can ask for is to have the ball in your hands for a chance to tie the game.  Entering the fourth quarter, the Scotties were in a familiar position. Trailing 21-19 against the number one seed Trotwood-Madison (15-0) the Scotties had the chance to come back for the third time this postseason, but this time, the third time was not the charm.

Down by eight points with two minutes remaining and no timeouts, senior quarterback Andrew Newsom led his Scotties down the field for a chance to tie the game. Getting his team to a first and goal from the seven-yard line, Newsom looked to connect with receiver Jake McLoughlin over the middle for a slant route. Linebacker Jayvanare Nelloms jumped in front of McLoughlin for the interception at the one-yard line to seal the title for the Rams.

“I thought it was a terrific football game,” Tri-Valley coach Justin Buttermore said. “I don’t think there were a lot of people who gave us a shot to win, but our kids believed we were going to win and our coaching staff believed we were going to win. I thought we fought tooth and nail for the entire game.”

Tri-Valley, a significant underdog, trailed 14-13 at halftime and took the lead after its opening drive to start the third quarter. Newsom connected with Dow Cameron for a 24-yard touchdown giving the Scotties the 19-14 lead after a failed two-point conversion.

Trotwood-Madison held a 67-48 edge in total plays and a nine-minute edge in time of possession, helping them overcome 16 penalties for 190 yards, two of which brought back touchdowns.

Scotties running back Caleb Craig rushed for zero yards on seven carries.

Coach Buttermore emphasized his team’s inability to sustain drives and its lack of positive field position. The Rams pinned the Scotties three times inside their own five-yard line, making their play calls very predictable.

“It’s tough to protect against them,” Buttermore said. “You have to be careful in the passing game, otherwise you’re sitting in second-and-long because they get after you and create sacks. We felt like we had to try and establish the run game throughout, but really we never got a consistent drive. But I’ll be honest, we had a ton of films on those guys and nobody puts together consistent drives against them.”

Pinned inside the one-yard line, Newsom found a hole in the right side of his line with nothing but open turf ahead of him for a 99-yard touchdown, the longest in a state championship game in any division.

The third and final time they were pinned deep in Scottie’s territory proved to be the deciding factor of the game.

Trotwood forced a three-and-out and got the ball on the Scotties’s 32-yard line late in the third quarter.

Three plays later, William McDaniel, who came in for star running back Ra’veion Hargrove who went down with a knee injury in the third quarter, broke free for a 10-yard touchdown run.

After forcing a Tri-Valley punt, Trotwood continued to wear down the Scotties defense. McDaniel carried the rock nine times for 44 yards. The Rams went 77 yards in 14 plays to take a 19-17 lead with 5:18 left.

Before the touchdown, the key play was a fourth-and-6 from the Scotties 25-yard line. Quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers rolled out to his right and found Jalen Watson over the middle between two Scottie defenders.

Newsom finished 11-of-19 passing for 221 yards and ran 22 times for 120 yards. McLoughlin caught five passes for 140 yards and Cameron had three receptions for 58 yards. Nathan Lawler had a game-high 12 tackles.

Hargrove’s 41-yard touchdown run with 2:17 left in the first quarter gave the Rams a 7-0 lead, but it was his longest run of the game. He finished with 138 yards on 20 carries.

After Newsom’s long run, Trotwood needed just two plays to make it 14-6 when Stephens-Peppers found McDaniel for a 56-yard catch-and-run with 7:20 until halftime.

Tri-Valley came right back, as Newsom hit McLoughlin for 48-yards on a play-action pass over the middle, then connected with Spencer Littick for a 15-yard TD.

Trotwood had a scoring chance in the closing seconds before halftime after a long McDaniel punt return, but the Scotties blocked the field goal as the half expired.

Buttermore said the Tri-Valley community support was surreal, not just last night, but throughout the entire playoffs.

“And as we told these guys, there’s certainly nothing to hang your head about when you play as hard as these guys do and as long as they do, and when you’ve have the kind of season we’ve had,” Buttermore said.

Tri-Valley finishes their historical season at 13-2, its seventh straight Muskingum Valley League Title, its first regional championship, and its first state championship appearance.

“That’s the only frustrating thing. This team and this community deserved a championship.”