Despite controlling the ball for much of the first half, the Mount Gilead football team only held a 7-6 lead going into the intermission due to coming up empty in Fredericktown territory in both the first and second quarters.
They would regret those empty drives in the second half. Fredericktown took the lead on a long touchdown pass from Blake Sipes to Grant Hartley and then pulled away to drop the Indians’ record to 2-3, 0-2 in KMAC play.
In their 26-7 loss, things started out well for Mount Gilead. Taking the ball first, the team rode the legs of running back Eliot Jones and quarterback Cole Fricke down the field. The duo handled the ball nine times in moving the ball from their 43 to the Fredericktown 14. However, facing a fourth-and-four from that spot, Fricke’s pass fell incomplete to end a drive lasting over six minutes with no points.
The team’s defense would come up big, though, shutting down Fredericktown on a fourth-and-one from the Freddie 39 to get the ball back. This time, they would reach the end zone, scoring on a three-yard run by Jones that ended a nine-play drive. Carson Barnum added the extra point to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
The Freddies wouldn’t waste any time in cutting into that lead. A 34-yard scramble by Sipes moved the ball to the MG 20 and the team would then complete a halfback pass from Trevor Bellman to Brode Davis for a 14-yard touchdown. The Indians were able to block the extra point attempt, though, to maintain a one-point lead.
Head coach Mike Reid felt his team, which held Fredericktown to 252 yards on the night, played well, but just gave up a few untimely big plays that played a big role in the conclusion.
“We play really well defensively, but we make a couple mistakes here and there,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep working. The harder we work and the more we work, hopefully we’ll eliminate some of those mistakes and put a whole game together pretty soon.”
The Indians were able to ride more rushes by Jones and a 17-yard pass from Carson Trainer to Cam Vickers down to the Fredericktown 20 on their next drive, but a penalty and negative-yardage play pushed them back to the 27, where Barnum couldn’t convert a 44-yard field goal, keeping the score at 7-6 going into the break.
The teams traded punts to open the third quarter, but Sipes then hit Hartley for a 69-yard score that gave Fredericktown a 12-7 lead with 7:04 left in the period.
Mount Gilead would then put forth another good drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the Fredericktown 19 late in the period. After forcing a punt, the first fourth quarter drive by the Indians would stall at the Freddie 38.
Their opponents would make them pay, eating over three minutes off the clock over eight plays before Sipes scored to increase his team’s lead to 19-7. With 3:18 on the clock, Hartley would essentially end MG’s hopes for a comeback win by picking off a pass and running it 50 yards back for points.
Ruhl noted that his team did well at moving the ball, but struggled with little mistakes that would wind up sabotaging drives.
“We’re just a little bit inconsistent right now,” he said. “A little mistake here, a little mistake there. The guys are working their tails off and I could be prouder of them. But a little mistake here, a little mistake there; it stalls a drive at that point. We started taking some chances and we gave up that pick six — that’s when the game got a little blown open. That’s a really tight ball game, a hard-fought contest by both teams, but we’ve got to quit making those mistakes so we can finish those drives.”
Jones ran for 57 yards, while Fricke had 55. Fricke and Trainer combined to hit on 10-of-23 passes for 129 yards. However, the team had two turnovers and also turned it over on downs multiple times. Reid noted that is something that will need to be corrected.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys in some key positions this year, but we’re in week six now, so it’s time to build and get better,” he said. “Really, what we need to do is get back to the basics and iron out those trouble areas and just eliminate the mistakes. We haven’t turned the ball over a lot this year and we turned the ball over a lot tonight. It’s a lot of things, but we have work to do. The thing about these guys is they’ll come in ready to work. They want to work. No one’s given up right now.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS