Indians wake up, beat Airport 42-21
It took a few good slaps to the face before Tecumseh’s varsity football team woke up and defeated the hard-hitting Airport Jet’s 42-21 on Friday, Oct. 25, in the last game of the regular season.
The Jets’ wasted little time in scoring with Robbie McGrath hauling in the opening kickoff and returning it to the Indians’ end zone in the first 13 seconds of play.
Airport scored again on their second possession late in the opening quarter with Dylan Meiring rushing into the end zone from four yards out. Douglas Pollard connected on both point after touchdown (PAT) kicks and the Jets held a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Mitch Meger put Tecumseh on the scoreboard on a two-yard touchdown run with 10:54 left in the first half and Ben Vannatter followed with a good PAT. However, the Jets answered back in the same quarter. Airport’s Meiring again rushed into the end zone on a short three-yard run and another good PAT by Pollard had the Jets clinging to a two-score 21-7 lead.
The Indians were visually upset by the Jets’ third slap to the face and Vannatter decided to do something about it — running Airport’s ensuing kick off to the end zone on a 97-yard return.
Vannatter missed his PAT attempt but the Indians weren’t done scoring quite yet. Meger again rushed into the end zone from only one yard out and Tecumseh quarterback Nick Cowen added two points on a conversion run to tie the game 21-21 going into halftime.
During the halftime break Tecumseh coach Al Romano had a serious talk with his boys about playing the game the way they practiced the week before.
“We just talked about finishing the game, coming out and doing what we were taught and what we had talked about all week,” said Romano. “There wasn’t a lot of adjustments necessary, we just needed to go out and finish the thing. And we got on them on offense in the second half pretty good.”
Tecumseh’s defense didn’t allow the Jets (3-6) another point all evening. The Indians’ offense perked up and scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, Meger on a four-yard run and Wyatt Cadmus on a six-yard run. Vannatter missed the PAT on the first touchdown so the Indians went for a two-point conversion and had Meger run into the end zone for a 35-21 advantage.
The Indians’ backup quarterback, Jeff Arnett, handed off to Travis Byrd with 2:52 remaining in the contest and he rushed into the end zone on a six-yard touchdown run.
Vannatter put an exclamation point on the board with a good PAT kick to end all scoring.
Tecumseh improved to 7-2 with the final regular season game win.
“Hey, back to back 7-2 records, playoffs for the second year in a row. The kids are excited. Anything can happen,” said Romano of advancing to the playoffs. “This is a reward.”
Tecumseh travels to Mason for the first round of playoffs on Friday. Both teams hold the same season records but Mason (75.333) carries more playoff points than the Indians (72.889). Mason (4-2, Capitol Area Activities Gold conference) has outscored its opponents 208-127. The Indians (4-1, Southeastern White Division Conference) outscored their opponents 367-112.
“They’re very flexible offensively,” said Romano of Mason. “They’d like to pound it but if that’s not working they’ll spread you out and throw it a little bit... They play a lot of guys on both offense and defense. I hope that’s a little bit of an advantage, come the later quarters. We’re going to push the tempo. We’re not going to huddle. We can go a little faster than we’ve been going. We’ve kind of kept that in the back burner, so to speak.”
Mason practices and plays on a home grass field.
“This is not their first rodeo,” said Romano. “It’s going to be a good ballgame.”
Preston Pelham led the Indians defense with 16 tackles. Stephen Bloxam added 14, Devin Moore 11, and Ben Vannatter, 10.
The Indians’ offinsive stats were not submitted before the Herald’s Tuesday deadline.