The Attica Red Ramblers hosted North Vermillion with the 1A Sectional 47 football championship on the line in a rematch of a game from September 21 that had been won by the Falcons 27-22.
North Vermillion won this second contest by the score of 22-6 to advance to earn the right to play for a regional championship.
Coming into the game, perhaps the most crucial thing that both teams had to deal with was adversity stemming from injuries earlier in the season.
“We started this year with 22 kids and it dropped to 16 or 18 at our practices,” Ryan Good, the Attica head coach said. “We pulled together and got ready to play every Friday night and did a good job doing that.”
His counterpart, Brian Crabtree of the Falcons, said he had several players who were not 100 percent, adding, “Early in the game, I tried to protect some of them by not having them play on both sides of the ball, but when things started poorly, I had to bring them back in.”
Attica kicked off to start the game and the Falcon returner fumbled the ball with the Ramblers recovering on the Falcon 40.
The hosts went three-and-out and had to punt the ball back to North Vermillion who ran one play and fumbled the ball away again, this time with Attica’s Drew Sheridan recovering it on the Falcon 28.
The Ramblers used a mix of runs and passes with Sheridan and quarterback Eli Kirkpatrick carrying the ball and the latter throwing to Chase Little, but the North Vermillion defense rose to the occasion again and broke up a 4th-down pass inside the Falcon 15.
“Our defense bought us time,” Crabtree said about dealing with the two turnovers. “They kept us in the game because if [Attica] scores there and are up 14, I’m not sure we could come back.”
On their third drive, North Vermillion kept their hands on the ball, but eventually had to punt when they faced a 4th-and-eight from their 37-yard line.
Two more punts followed before the quarter ended with no one yet reaching the scoreboard, but Attica, who won the punting battle, drove to the Falcon 5 before turning the ball over on downs.
North Vermillion got the ball back and ran Christian Myers twice for a net gain of 11 yards and then quarterback Brennan Ellis threw to Jonathan Kilgore for a 59-yard catch and run.
On the next play, Myers broke free and ran the final 16 yards to put the Falcons on the scoreboard and it was 8-0 after Ellis threw to Wyatt Reynolds on the two-point try.
Attica could not muster any offense on their next possession and punted.
North Vermillion looked to be driving as Ellis broke free for a 67-yard run, but Dawson Pattengale sent the Falcons backwards with a sack that slowed down the visitors for a moment, but then Reynolds got free on two runs to push the ball across the goal line for a 14-0 lead when the two-point try failed.
The Ramblers had one last possession in the half, but time ran out as the drive reached midfield.
Quarter three started with another punting contest and neither team managed to put points on the board before the period ended.
North Vermillion started a drive late in that third quarter, finally reaching the end zone in the fourth quarter after nine plays to lead 22-0 as Ellis ran 21 yards for the touchdown and Reynolds added the two-point try.
With about eight minutes left in the contest, Attica got the ball back and started to move up the field using passes to Little and DJ Burris to reach Falcon territory.
The Ramblers closed the drive on a five-yard touchdown pass to Sheridan, but the two-point try came up short, so they trailed 22-6.
North Vermillion tried to use as much of the clock as they could when they got the ball back, but they eventually turned it over on downs to Attica.
The hosts tried for yet another score, but despites passes to Little and a double-digit yardage run by Sheridan, the game ended before the team could alter the 22-8 score.
Attica coach Good spoke about how proud he was of his small band of players and two of them spoke after the game.
“We are a small team,” Little said, “but we all know each other and trust each other and I think that’s why we did as well as we did this year.”
Sheridan added, “We don’t have two or three deep, sometimes not really even one, but we stick together and support each other.”
All three said they were proud of how the team battled to the end with Good saying, “We came out and played as hard as we possibly could. It’s what you’d expect from players like these.”
Falcon wide receiver and linebacker, senior Corey Buchhaas, who hurt his ankle last week against Seeger, played in the semi-state in 2015 and the sectional championship in 2016 so he was in a position to explain just how much this sectional title meant to the team.
“It’s a crazy big thing for us,” he said. “It was a goal for us all year. I wasn’t sure after last week that I could play, but I really wanted to. I’m not 100 percent, maybe 70 or 80, but I had to be out there if I could.”
The regional contest between North Vermillion and North Central (Farmersburg) will be at 7 pm on Friday at North Vermillion with a trip to the semi-state level on the line for the two squads.