In their second game back after missing the first two weeks due to positive COVID-19 tests disrupting their schedule, the Mount Gilead football team barely missed out on getting into the win column.
Competing at Fredericktown, the Indians rallied from a 22-7 halftime deficit to tie the Freddies at 22. However, they would give up a quick touchdown and then just fell short of potentially winning the contest in the final moments of a 28-22 loss.
MG coach B.J. Trainer was disappointed his team couldn’t finish the job against Fredericktown, but was very pleased with how much his team had improved since last week’s lopsided loss to Highland.
“The win is what we need,” he said. “We made huge improvements from a week ago. The kids had a great week of practice. They played all four quarters, hung in there and battled. I’m proud of their effort and work. We’re going to get one of these to go our way.”
The Indians struck first in the game. With over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, they recovered a Freddie fumble and drove 40 yards in eight plays. Mount Gilead used two quarterbacks in the game and one of them, Elijah Chafin, ran nine yards for the score. Garrett Lamb-Hart’s extra point kick staked MG to a 7-0 lead with 3:39 left in the opening period.
That lead wouldn’t hold up for long, as the Freddies immediately responded with a 68-yard scoring run by Jeremiah McKinley. A two-point pass from Ben Mast to Xavier Mullins made it 8-7.
Mount Gilead then threw an interception and their opponents would make them pay, getting another score before the end of the first on a short run by Teegan Ruhl.
Trailing 14-7 going into the second, things would get worse for the Indians. After a Fredericktown punt, they’d get the ball on the Freddie 49 and move to the 18, but their drive would stall and they’d turn it over on downs. Their opponents would take advantage of that and drive down the field on a 13-play drive that ended with 44 seconds left in the half when Mast hit Kaid Carpenter on an 11-yard scoring pass. Mast would connect with Mullins again for two points and it was 22-7.
However, Mount Gilead would spring back into life in the third quarter. After neither team could get anything going on their first drive, the Indians had the ball on their 47. Runs by Carson VanHoose, Owen Blanton and Garrett George took the team 27 yards in five plays and the team’s other quarterback, Carter Kennon, then connected with Paul Butterman for a 28-yard touchdown. A pass to Matthew Bland added two more points and it was a 22-15 game with 4:29 left in the third.
It would remain that way until the fourth quarter. Getting the ball on their 28 with 11:09 left, MG got a 13-yard pass from Kennon to Owen High and one of nine to Butterman. George then sprinted for 29 yards to move the ball to the Fredericktown 21.
From there, the Indians ran the ball four straight times, with Kennon scrambling for the final yard to put the ball into the end zone. Lamb-Hart added the PAT and the game with tied at 22 with eight minutes left.
Unfortunately for MG, it wouldn’t be deadlocked for long, as Steven Tumbleson immediately took a hand-off 60 yards for points, giving his team a 28-22 lead with 7:53 left. The only bright point for the team — they were able to prevent the Freddies from succeeding on a two-point try.
“Any time you give up a big play after you score, it’s deflating,” said Trainer. “Credit to our kids. After the last one, they went for two and we stopped it.”
The Indians went three-and-out on their next drive and Fredericktown looked to run as much clock as possible. However, the Freddies fumbled with just over three minutes to go and MG recovered to have one more chance, starting from the Fredericktown 40.
After runs by Bland and George gave the team 11 yards and a first down, they suffered from a penalty and sack to find themselves in a fourth-and-22 from their 41. Their desperation pass was incomplete, but a roughing the passer call on Fredericktown gave their drive new life.
A pass to Bland netted 10 yards and moved the ball to the 16. Butterman was hit for six more yards, but MG would not be able to get farther than the 10 yard line, turning the ball over one downs with only enough time left for the Freddies to take a knee and conclude the game.
While disappointed with the end result, Trainer saw a lot of improvement from last week to this in nearly every facet of the game.
“I don’t know if it’s one thing,” he said. “It’s a lot of things. Our offensive line and defensive line played better, we ran the ball better and special teams were better. There were a lot of areas we looked so much better. I told the kids that last week was essentially our scrimmage because we didn’t have one. You look for huge growth from a scrimmage to the next scrimmage or game and we had huge growth.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS