Van head coach Jared Moffatt did not sugarcoat it when discussing how the Vandals played for most of the first half of Friday’s game at Princeton.
“Probably the worst 14 minutes of football we could possibly play,” Moffatt said of Van being down 27-0 in the second quarter. “We had two turnovers, one of those returned for a touchdown. It was a calamity of errors.”
Spoiler alert: Van won the game.
Riding the arm and legs of senior quarterback Garrett Moseley, the Vandals (2-0) scored 41 unanswered points to take the lead and eventually win 48-34.
“We talk to our kids all the time about adversity, and all you can do is dig in and that is exactly what we did,” Moffatt said of the comeback “We were down 27-14 at halftime. To be down by just 13 was a miracle and we got the ball first to start the second half. We felt like if we could go down and score it would put a lot of pressure on (Princeton).”
Van nearly squandered its chance with an interception on that first drive of the third quarter, but the defender fumbled during the return to give Vandals new life. Van did not blink again, driving down with Moseley scoring on a 6-yard run to make it 27-20.
A defensive stop led to another Vandal score. Moseley hooked up with Liam Neilson for a 65-yard scoring strike. The PAT tied the score at 27-27 with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Van was not finished.
The defense forced another stop and the Vandals offense was soon back in the end zone on a 5-yard run by Elijah Rankine to take their first lead of the game, 34-27, entering the fourth quarter.
Van kept its foot on the gas with Moseley and Neilson combining for an 80-yard touchdown pass.
“It was a wild football game and what high school football is all about, Moffatt said. “Garrett fumbled twice and threw five uncatchable balls in a row, but when we got rolling, it was because of him, too. He’s as competitive a kid as I’ve ever been around.”
Moseley finished with 500 yards of total offense and goes into Friday’s annual clash with rival Lindale sporting 325 yards rushing and five touchdowns to go with 464 yards passing and four scores.
Lindale (1-1) is coming off a 30-17 win over Forney.
“Lindale week for us is always a great week,” Moffatt said. “These kids have grown up together and their kids want to beat our kids and our kids want to beat theirs.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium in Lindale.
TROUP CHANGES THINGS UP IN WIN OVER ORE CITY
The Troup Tigers surrendered 47 points in an opening-week loss to Spring Hill and were trailing 14-6 entering the fourth quarter on the road Friday at Ore City.
Then, according to head coach John Eastman, things flipped.
The Tigers started running the ball, started playing defense and ultimately using emotion to play winning football and rally back for a 28-14 win.
“The latter part of the third quarter (and fourth quarter) we kind of found out who were offensively,” Eastman said. “We started running the football and did some good things.”
Troup rattled out 22 unanswered points with Eastman giving credit to his defense, quarterback Weslee Ross, receivers Dakota Wallace and Desmond Deason and running back Ramiro Martinez.
“It was a test of character. It was the first time this year I have seen this particular group of kids get excited and show some emotion, and it made a huge difference,” Eastman said. “We started executing our offense in a crucial time. Ramiro is a downhill runner and he finally started finding some holes, and we played solid defense the whole night. I think we held them to 25 yards rushing for the game.”
Troup (1-1) now faces undefeated Elkhart (2-0), which has scored 40 points in both of its victories against Shelbyville and Leon.
“We want to play with that emotion and play well as a team,” Eastman said. “They have a running back, who is as explosive as anyone around. Elkhart will present us a different set of challenges, but I think we are pretty evenly talented. I think it’s a good matchup.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium in Troup.
HARMONY COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH TO STAY UNBEATEN
The Harmony Eagles are unbeaten through two games, thanks to a 20-13 win over Waskom on Saturday, but head coach Tim Russell said things were not easy.
Harmony led 13-0 at halftime, but couldn’t add to it. Meanwhile, Waskom scored twice to tie things up at 13-13 with 6:30 to play.
“Waskom won back to back state championships two years ago and they still have a lot of kids who have stats championship rings, so this was a big win for us,” Russell said. “Our defense being able to stymie their offense was a back factor.”
With the scored tied 13-13, Harmony went back in front on a 37-yard touchdown run by Barrett Hill. The PAT made it 20-13 with under six minutes to play.
Waskom attempted to continue the surge it had created since halftime, but on fourth down, was stuffed by Harmony’s defense to secure a victory.
Russell credits D.J Click, who rushed for 39 yards and a touchdown, and Konrad Eichelman, who led Harmony with 11 solo tackles in the win.
“I am sure it was an exciting game for the fans and not so much so for the coaches,” Russell said. “We’d rather have a two or three-touchdown lead, but it was definitely a good game for the future. Nice to have an early close game in preseason that you win (and can build from).”
Harmony next goes on the road Friday to face Scurry-Rosser (0-2), which is coming off a 57-21 loss to Lone Oak. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Wildcats Stadium.
“(Scurry-Rosser) have a lot of playoff experience,” Russell said. “They had a down year last year, but had season-ending injuries to their quarterback and running backs. They have those guys back and they will be a big test for us Friday.”