Clinton-Massie started fast Friday night, but when the team’s three best running backs got hurt in the first quarter the coaching staff had to improvise.
Exit 1,300-yard rusher Christian Poynter after six carries along with the next two best runners, Grant Rudy and Cody Collingham. Enter defensive starters Weston Trampler, Tyler Beam and Daulton Wolfe with a combined 17 carries this season.
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They were up to the challenge against second-ranked and top-seeded Valley View. With the help of their offensive line, the new backfield controlled the ball enough and played their usual defensive roles to help stop the Spartans at the end of each half to hold on for a 28-20 victory in a Division IV, Region 16 semifinal.
“We had about 2,000 yards of offense go out of there right at the beginning of the game,” Massie coach Dan McSurley said. “We resorted to playing guys that never touch the ball, and they just played amazing. They willed this team to winning this game.”
Trampler, who had 13 carries this season, led the Falcons with 76 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Wolfe had 36 yards on seven carries and Beam had 46 on three carries, including a 33-yard touchdown for his team’s final points halfway through the third quarter for a 28-13 lead. The Spartans scored again two minutes later and had momentum.
But the new backfield responded with what might have been the most important drive of the game. They consumed several minutes of the fourth quarter with a drive that ended in a missed field goal that left the Spartans 80 yards away with 1:23 left and no timeouts. The Spartans moved to the Massie 25 with 38 seconds left but didn’t gain another yard.
“We knew our O-line was going to wear them down physically,” said Massie defensive end Thomas Myers. “And all our defense had to do was keep stopping them, keep stopping them.”
The Falcons, ranked No. 7 in the state and the fourth seed in the region, meet second-seeded and unbeaten Cincinnati Wyoming next week in the regional final.
“We’ll just try to heal up and get in the Whirlpool,” McSurley said. “I don’t know what we’ll do.”
After jumping to a 14-0 lead, McSurley’s team had trouble knowing what to do with Valley View’s Collin Genslinger. He rushed for 215 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns. While Genslinger was making big plays, Myers, Luke Richardson and Corey Stultz were involved in two other big plays for the Falcons.
Myers, who is 6-foot-6, intercepted a screen pass intended for Genslinger on a fourth-and-3 play in the red zone to preserve a 14-7 halftime lead. After Genslinger’s 25-yard touchdown cut the Falcons’ lead to 14-13 to start the second half, Stultz threw deep to Richardson for a 60-yard touchdown and a 21-13 lead.
“We played really hard but we just made too many mistakes in the beginning,” Valley View coach Bob Skidmore said. “We had our chances, and we were hoping we could finish drives but we just couldn’t tonight. That’s just a really good team.”