On the opening series for Victory, Lions sophomore running back Shawn Traywick led the charge, rushing for a 5-yard touchdown. Lions quarterback Micah Dorroh converted the two-point attempt to give Victory the early lead, 8-0.
The Warriors’ opening possession lasted only two plays when the offense committed a costly fumble, giving Victory the ball on ASD’s 48-yard line.
Lions head coach Bobby Fairley unveiled senior running back Reece Taylor, the second back in his shotgun and pistol offense’s one-two punch.
On Taylor’s third carry of the second possession, he broke a 22-yard carry toward the left sideline, converting a first down on a 2nd-and-7 play that started from the ASD 30-yard line. On the same play, Silent Warriors’ defensive back Ke’Trez Holman sustained what appeared to be a serious injury resulting in close to a 20-minute delay and emergency personnel taking him off the field on a stretcher.
Both teams kneeled in circles during the stoppage as a clear show of sportsmanship and respect.
When game play resumed, Taylor capped off the 48-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown. Dorrah converted his second two-point attempt of the game, giving Victory the 16-0 advantage.
After a short kickoff fielded by ASB at their own 42-yard line, the offense showed a spark when Silent Warriors running back Eddie Thomas darted around the left end and straddled the sideline on a 58-yard scamper. The Warriors failed to convert the two-point attempt but cut into Victory’s lead, 16-6.
Victory took the team’s third possession of the game and marched down the field on an eight-play drive culminating in an 11-yard touchdown run by Traywick. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 22-6.
After a turnover on downs from the Silent Warriors, the Lions started on their own 34-yard line and roared back down the field. Midway through the drive, the offense shifted gears and operated from the I-formation.
On the 11th play of the drive, Traywick punched in his third touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run. Following the team’s second failed two-point conversion of the night, Victory maintained a 28-6 lead with 1:28 left in the second quarter.
The Silent Warriors received one more opportunity in the first half to try to close the gap, but came up short inside the red zone after fumbling away the scoring chance on a 2nd-and-goal play. The Lions recovered and took a knee to end the half.
Despite giving up two turnovers in the first half and being gashed for four rushing touchdowns in the first half, ASD’s squad continued to fight back, taking their opening possession of the second-half 62 yards in nine plays. Silent Warriors running back Anthony Scott, who took snaps on offense from under center in their Wing-T formation, powered across the goal line on a 2-yard run. The Silent Warriors could not convert the two-point try, leaving the score 28-12.
Despite a 24-yard kick return by Lions running back Bowdie Tate setting Victory up with excellent field position, their first drive of the second half lasted only three plays when Silent Warriors linebacker Matthew Lowry intercepted Dorrah.
On their own 39-yard line, the Silent Warriors charged down the field in 10 plays, with Thomas scoring his second TD on an 11-yard run. Scott managed to find a wide open target in the end zone to convert their two-point try, bringing the game to within a score, 28-20.
The déjà vu feeling must’ve set in with Victory’s offense. The team had a strong kick return by Tate. Three plays later, another interception for the ASD defense gave ASD the ball. Scott, playing linebacker on defense, picked off the Dorroh pass.
The Silent Warriors drive appeared to stall after Scott was brought down in the backfield by a pack of Lions defenders. The following play, Thomas turned a 3rd-and-long long shot into a 37-yard touchdown run, putting him over the 100-yard rushing mark and giving him his third touchdown run. Scott was stopped for a loss on the two-point conversion attempt, trailing the Lions by 2, 28-26.
Neither team would score again in the game.
The Lions managed to hold on to the victory without scoring points in the second half. Traywick finished the game with 143 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor added another 80 yards and touchdown to Victory’s attack.
“We just got tired,” Fairley said. “We have 15 guys. We’re tired and they’re tired. They managed to hit a couple home run plays and jump back in the game. They didn’t give up and fought hard to the end. We appreciate that.”
While some may question whether moral victories exist, Silent Warriors head coach Paul Kulick kept his team motivated right down to the wire.
“I’m really proud of our boys,” Kulick said. “They showed tremendous heart and worked their heart out from the beginning to the end, from the first to the last. I’m so proud of our school and our boys for the job they did tonight.”