Updated Fri, Aug 30, 2013 11:31 pm
The Friday night season opener of Tri-Valley against the Licking Valley Panthers marked the start of a new era of Scottie football, as the black and gold took the field for the first time without 2012 stars Nathan Strock and Austin Jones. The transition proved to be tougher than expected, leading to a 17-14 Scottie loss.
For a team that averaged 48.5 points per game last season, a sluggish and stagnant offensive start was an unfamiliar sight to the crowd at Jack Anderson Stadium in Dresden. The Tri-Valley offense fumbled the ball twice in the first quarter and couldn’t seem to find much offensive production outside of running back Daniel “Bubby” Scott.
Scott tallied 112 yards on 17 first half carries, providing the Scotties with enough momentum to take advantage of a few first half mistakes by Licking Valley.
While Tri-Valley coughed up the ball twice, the Panthers’ stumbled in their own way, botching two punt attempts that set up the Scotties deep in Panther territory. Tri-Valley failed to make the most of the first opportunity, but seized the moment and scored on a three-yard Brock Fargus run to put the Scotties up, 6-0, at the half.
Tri-Valley extended its lead to 14-3 by the end of the third quarter, setting up an improbable and highly unexpected comeback for the Licking Valley Panthers.
Quarterback Grant Garber and running back Hunter Hartshorn led a balanced drive early in the fourth quarter, cutting the Scottie lead to 14-9 with just under nine minutes remaining. While Tri-Valley attempted to drain the clock by handing it off to Scott, the Scotties were forced to punt late in the fourth quarter, giving the Panthers one last shot.
Garber converted two long fourth down conversions to Tyler Nethers in their march down the field, leading to a six-yard touchdown catch by Blake Butler and a two-point conversion by Nethers that put the Panthers in front 17-14.
With only 12 seconds left on the clock, the Panthers prevented the Scotties from crossing into field goal territory, capping a come-from-behind opening game upset.
Scott finished the game with 170 total yards, while Panthers running back Hartshorn totaled 85 yards and a touchdown. Garber won the night’s quarterback battle, completing on 22 of 39 passes for 241 yards and the touchdown that propelled the Panthers into the lead.
The Scotties kick off their MVL schedule next week on the road against the Morgan Raiders, while Licking Valley travels to Duncan Falls to take on another MVL foe in the Philo Electrics.