By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
ONEONTA – “If we stop Fluff, we can stop Oneonta. But that will be hard to do.” That is what Jon Clements said last week. For the most part, the Tigers did just that. But for the latter part of the third quarter and the first part of the fourth, there was just enough “Fluff” to help the Redskins get the win on their home turf Friday night by a score of 28-21 over the visiting Tigers from Springville.
The game would start out really well for Springville. They took the opening drive down the field and fed Mahlon Alverson the ball 4 times for a total of 74 yards, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run at the 9:20 mark of the first quarter to put the Tigers up 7-0. Springville’s defense would hold Oneonta to a field goal attempt that would be short and the Tigers wound up with the ball at their own 20-yard line. On the third play, Noel Cox took a pitch from Jake Conner and bobbled it, eventually dropping it to the ground and Oneonta would pounce. The quarter would end with Springville holding the 7-0 lead, but the Redskins were threatening.
Oneonta’s Da’Marion “Fluff” Bothwell would take the brunt of the load, driving the ball down to the four-yard line and punch it in from there to tie the game. Not to be outdone, Alverson would put up another stellar drive, busting through the line on a fourth and one from the 29-yard line and finding paydirt to make it 14-7 Tigers. Oneonta would get the passing game going on their next drive and the Redskins’ quarterback, Landon Abernathy would find Drew Buse for a 37-yard touchdown to knot the game at 14. A mix of Alverson and Conner helped the Tigers reach the three-yard line but they would run out of time after an errant snap was dropped and Conner had to fall on it. The half would end with the score tied at 14.
The Tigers’ defense would come out of the locker room determined to stop Oneonta and they did just that, causing the Redskins to turn the ball over on downs at the Springville 36. The Tigers would find little success on offense and have to punt from their own 49. The punt would be blocked and Oneonta would have decent field position for their next drive. This is where “Fluff” would earn his playing time. On a third and four from the ten, he would give Oneonta the lead at 21-14 by breaking tackles on the way to the end zone. The quarter would end with Conner Nelson attempting a sneak on fourth and one and being stuffed for a one-yard loss.
To begin the final period, Oneonta would find themselves at the Springville 41 but they would not be able to do anything with it. They would punt the ball back to Springville but another Tiger drive would stall out and end with the Tigers punting. Oneonta would feed their monster running back the ball five consecutive times, gaining a total of 41 yards on the drive with the final carry being a nine-yard touchdown run. Oneonta would go up 28-14 with 5:49 to play. Springville would take all but 39 seconds off of the clock while driving the ball down the field and ending up with a touchdown run of one yard by Conner to make it 28-21 Redskins. Springville attempted an onside kick but Oneonta would recover and run out the final moments of the game.
Springville allowed Bothwell 3 touchdowns on 28 carries for 144 yards. Alverson finished the night with a fantastic 238 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns to lead the Tigers.
“Too many mistakes at crucial times by people who do not need to be making mistakes,” said Jon Clements, Springville’s Head Coach. “I thought we came out here and started the game the right way and then got complacent like we thought we were going to push them around. We talked all week about how these guys aren’t going to quit. They have a lot of region championships and state championships. This is a program and it’s been that way for a long time. I guess we just didn’t believe that.”
Clements continued, “We’ve got to play better and I’ve got to coach a lot better. I made some bad calls, especially at the end of the half when we got down there close to the end zone. I screwed that up. I’m proud of my guys. They never gave up. Our fans are fantastic. They packed it out and got behind our boys. That’s one special thing about Springville. Those people show up no matter what and I cannot thank them enough for that.”
Springville hosts 5-1 rivals Moody next week in region play, after falling to 2-4 on the season. “We’ve got a big game next week that we’ve got to get ready for. We need to let this one soak in because it needs to hurt. I thought some guys did some good things but we just couldn’t put it together tonight. Sometimes it happens like that.”