The 7th seed (Class A) Tug Valley Panthers jumped out to a huge lead in the first half and then held on down the stretch to pick up a 28-26 win the first round of the playoffs on Friday at Bob Brewer Stadium in Naugatuck.
The Panthers (9-2) jumped on top early when Adam Slone capped off a drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Aiden Bosserman’s PAT kick made it a 7-0 score.
Tyler Consolidated (8-3) answered back as Sean Winfrey scored on a 7-yard touchdown run. Cameron Slone blocked the PAT attempt to help Tug Valley preserve a lead, 7-6.
Tug Valley quickly answered back as Bryson Elia broke loose and raced into the end zone from 69 yards out. Bosserman’s kick put the Panthers up, 14-6, after the first quarter.
The Panthers continued to increase their lead in the second period when Elia scored on a 25-yard touchdown run to make it a 21-6 lead. Later in the quarter, Elia threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Slone to make it a 28-6 advantage at the intermission.
The Knights started finding more success in the 3rd period when Brady Strode connected with Winfrey for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Austin Smith sacked Strode on the conversion attempt, but Tyler Consolidated cut the lead to 28-12. Later in the period, Winfrey took the hand off and raced 57 yards for a touchdown. Bo Tallman then scored on the 2-point conversion to make it a 28-20 Tug Valley lead.
Tyler Consolidated kept Tug Valley out of the end zone and found itself down at the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter. Tallman rumbled into the end zone to make the score 28-26. Strode then rolled right on the conversion attempt, but Buddy Marcum ran him down for the sack, snuffing out the attempt.
The Knights had one last drive in the closing minutes, but Dakoda Walker made a tremendous play to knock down a screen pass attempt that could have easily been a touchdown. Then, the Panthers forced an incomplete pass from Strode and took over on downs to seal the game.
Elia completed 9-of-18 passes for 103 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He also carried the ball 24 times for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Adam Slone had 10 carries for 51 yards and 1 touchdown. He also caught 3 passes for 52 yards.
Cameron Slone caught 4 passes for 28 yards and 1 touchdown. Buddy Marcum had 1 catch for 12 yards. Brady Brewer finished with 1 reception for 11 yards.
Defensively, Adam Slone had 12 tackles, including 1 for a loss. Marcum had 11 tackles, including 4 for a loss and 2 sacks. Cane Thompson had 10 tackles. Ashton Davis had 5 tackles, including 3 sacks.
For Tyler Consolidated, Strode completed 6-of-13 passes for 150 yards and 1 touchdown. Winfrey had 20 carries for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 2 passes for 84 yards and 1 touchdown.
Tug Valley will travel to 2nd seed Tucker County (11-0) on Saturday. Tucker County beat Midland Trail, 46-6, on Friday. The opening kick is set for 4 pm.
Photo Courtesy of Karen Watts