GLENHAYES — The Tug Valley Panthers scored twenty-eight consecutive points in the second half but couldn’t overcome the consequences of its eight turnovers in a 44-36 loss to Tolsia on Friday night at Wilt Salmons Field.
“That’s a typical Tug Valley and Tolsia football game. Every single time we play this bunch someone gets up big and the other team fights back,” Tolsia coach Eric Crum said.
After Tug Valley (3-2) fumbled the opening kickoff, Tolsia (4-1) recovered and took advantage of a short field and established its run game early in the contest. John Wilson carried the ball on four of the seven plays on the Rebel’s opening drive for a total of 36 yards and the games first score, giving Tolsia an 8-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
The Panther’s had their chance to answer on the ensuing possession, driving down the field inside the Tolsia 10 before penalties stalled the drive and the Panthers failed to convert on 4th-and-goal from the 18-yard line. The drive took over 6-minutes off the clock.
In their best shot at mirroring the Panthers’ first offensive drive, Tolsia marched down the field both on the ground and through the air, threatening to take a two-score lead as the first quarter clocked ticked inside the final minute.
When the clock reset for the second quarter, a Tolsia fumble by Tanner Copley brought a sudden end to an otherwise will executed drive for the Rebels and gave life to the Tug Valley offense. The Panthers capitalized on the turnover and drove 72 yards in six plays, capping off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Varney to Caleb May to tie the game at eight apiece.
Two scores in the final six minutes of the second quarter gave Tolsia a two-touchdown lead at halftime.
Wilson’s second rushing touchdown of the day, seventh of the season, broke the tie and allowed the Rebels to regain a 14-8 lead with 5:28 left in the first half. A 20-yard touchdown pass from Copley to Devin Stull extended the home team’s lead to 22-8 with less than a minute left on the clock after the Panthers went four-and-out, failing to convert on a fourth-and-twelve from their own 29.
Tug Valley couldn’t get out of its own way in the third quarter, turning the ball over on downs twice more and mishandling another kickoff — resulting in another Tolsia score after a 33-yard rush from Zach Ball set up a 23-yard touchdown run for Copley, giving Tolsia a twenty point lead more than halfway through the third frame.
After the Panthers second turnover on downs of the quarter, Zach Ball ran past two Tug Valley defenders to break the edge and raced 45 yards to the endzone on the first play of the drive.
Tolsia led 36-8 with 1:45 left in the quarter.
“Tolsia has a good ball club. I won’t say they shell shocked us but they are the best team we’ve seen so far. They came out and hit us hard and we had to adjust to it,” Tug Valley coach Hady Ford said after the loss. “I told our guys that when you play better teams you have to adjust to their speed and we started to do that in the second half.”
A big part of that adjustment was from quarterback Ethan Varney who threw four of his five touchdowns in the second half to claw his team back in the game.
Varney through his second touchdown pass of the night, a 3-yard option pass to Tanner Kirk, pulling the visitors within 20 points of Tolsia at the end of the third quarter.
He threw a third touchdown to Caleb May to bring the Panthers within two scores, 36-22, with eight minutes left in the game.
Tug Valley got the ball back at midfield after recovering an onside kick following the score. Trailing by two scores, Varney found Ethan Colegrove in man coverage for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The two-point conversion failed but the Panthers had scored twenty consecutive points and pulled within eight points of Tolsia, 36-28.
The games tying score came with less than four minutes left in the game after Varney made quick work of the Rebels’ secondary, scorching the defense with long throws down the field, including the tying touchdown throw to Caleb May, his third touchdown reception of the game.
“We have to learn to put people away. We are fortunate tonight because we had them down but had trouble finishing them off,” Crum said.
Tolsia responded in the best way they knew how — on the ground. Copley began the drive with a 46-yard run to flip the field and then threw his second touchdown pass of the night, this one to Jesse Muncy, to give the Rebels a 44-36 lead, ending a run of 28 consecutive points for Tug Valley and setting the game’s final score.
Score by quarters
Tug Valley: 0 8 8 20 — 36
Tolsia: 8 14 14 8 — 44
THS – Wilson 5 rush (Conversion successful)
TV – May 20 pass from Varney (Conversion successful)
THS – Wilson 3 rush (Conversion no good)
THS – Stull 20 pass from Copley (Conversion successful)
THS – Copley 23 rush (Conversion no good)
THS – Ball 45 rush (Muncy rush, conversion successful)
TV – Kirk 3 pass from Varney (Conversion successful)
TV – May 12 pass from Varney (Conversion no good)
TV – Colegrove 25 pass from Varney (Conversion no good)
TV – May 18 pass from Varney (Conversion successful)
THS – Muncy 12 pass from Copley (Conversion successful)
Total yards 370 404
Rushes-yds 22-83 48-334
Comp-Att-Int 24-44-1 3-4-0
Passing yards 287 70
Penalties-Yds 7-65 12-125
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 3-2
Rushing: TV – Varney – 20-80; Colegrove 2-3. TOLSIA – Wilson – 28-137, 2 TD; Copley 13-105, 2 TD; Ball 5-91, TD; Beckleheimer 2-1.
Passing: TV – Ethan Varney 24-of-44, 287 yards, 5 TD, INT. TOLSIA – Tanner Copley 3-of-4, 70 yards, 2 TD.
Receiving: TV – May – 15-189, 3 TD; Kirk 4-37, TD; Colegrove 2-35, TD; Davis 2-26. TOLSIA – Ball – 1-38; Stull 1-20, TD; Muncy 1-12, TD