TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A 22-yard kick for a 22nd straight win in the league.
The Trimble football team escaped East Shade River Stadium with a 10-7 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Eastern on Friday night, with a 22-yard field goal from Blake Guffey breaking the 7-all tie midway through the fourth quarter, ultimately lifting THS to its 22nd consecutive league win.
Eastern (0-2, 0-1 TVC Hocking) — which hasn’t defeated the Tomcats (2-0, 1-0) since 2000 — marched 71 yards down the field in 11 plays on the game’s opening drive, with Steve Fitzgerald running into the end zone from two yards out.
Fitzgerald’s touchdown was followed by an extra point from Conner Ridenour and gave Eastern a 7-0 lead with 7:27 left in the first quarter. The score ended Trimble’s streak of a dozen straight shut outs in the league, as well as a string of 18 consecutive quarters without allowing a point to the Eagles.
Eastern got the ball back four plays into the ensuing THS possession, as Blake Newland forced a fumble and Jayden Evans recovered. Trimble took the ball right back, however, with Austin Wisor intercepting a pass at the THS 23.
After a three-and-out by each team, the Tomcats took the game into the second quarter with an 8-play, 74-yard, touchdown drive. Tabor Lackey tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Todd Fouts with 9:27 left in the half, and Guffey made the extra point to tie it at seven.
Eastern went three-and-out on its following possession, but got the ball back on an interception by Conner Ridenour. However, Will Freeborn picked off an EHS pass on the very next play. Six plays later, Brady Yonker intercepted a Tomcat pass and returned it to THS 47.
The Eagles picked up a pair of first downs, but as time expired in the half, Wisor intercepted a pass in the end zone.
There was more defense after the break, as the third quarter featured three punts, two by Trimble and one by Eastern.
The Eagles were stopped a yard short of a fourth down conversion two plays into the fourth quarter, giving the ball back to Trimble on its own 41.
The guests made it as far as the EHS 14, but Newland forced another fumble, with Ridenour recovering on the EHS 19. However, on the very next play, Guffey stripped the ball and recovered a fumble, returning it to within eight yards of the end zone.
The Tomcats picked up three more yards over the next three plays, before Guffey nailed the 22-yard field goal with 6:03 remaining.
Eastern’s final drive started at its own 17 and featured a pair of third down conversions. The Eagles made it to the red zone with around 1:30 to play, but a sack by Cole Wright put Eastern back to the THS 28 with 1:10 remaining.
After a pair of incomplete passes, Ridenour found Blake Newland over the middle, but THS junior Tucker Dixon tackled Newland less than a yard short of the first down marker, sealing Trimble’s 10-7 win.
For the game, Eastern had a 249-to-161 advantage in total offense, including 88-to-72 on the ground. Each team committed four turnovers, and EHS was flagged eight times for 85 yards, while THS was sent back six times for a total of 53. Eastern also picked up a 13-to-11 edge in first downs.
Fitzgerald led all-rushers with 44 yards and a touchdown on 11 totes. Blake Newland ran 14 times for 32 yards and also caught three passes for a game-high 51 yards. Brayden Smith — who had one carry for one yard — caught a game-best five passes for 36 yards, while Bruce Hawley and Preston Throla caught two passes apiece for 43 and 31 yards respectively.
Ridenour ran seven times for a total of 20 yards, while completing 12-of-21 passes for 161 yards.
For Trimble, Lackey completed 9-of-16 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, while leading the team on the ground with 41 yards on 11 carries. Fouts and Wisor had three receptions apiece, earning 35 and 32 yards respectively.
Both teams are at home next Friday, as Eastern hosts South Gallia and Trimble welcomes Belpre.
© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.