For the second straight week, the Tioga Tigers Varsity Football team battled a difficult opponent inside their home stadium. Once again, Tioga prevailed in the final seconds of the game to earn a victory with a similar scoreline. Last week, it was the Walton Warriors by a score of 23-20. This week the Tigers avenged a 10-6 loss from last year by defeating the Newark Valley Cardinals 24-20.
“We’ve shown a lot of grit in these last two games,” Head Coach Nick Aiello said. “I think playing two tough teams back to back is good for us because it shows we know how to win in close games and not just lopsided victories.”
The battle between the 2015 Class D state champion Tioga and the 2016 Class C state champion Newark Valley started off with an action packed first quarter that started with a 10-yard touchdown run from junior Raidyn Ford to give the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead. Ford finished the game with 57 rushing yards on 10 carries also catching two passes for 33 yards, accounting for 90 total yards.
The drive was propelled with a balanced run and passing game. Newark Valley quarterback Mike Wandell kept the Tiger defense grounded throughout the game extending multiple plays through the air. The sophomore finished the game seven completions on 17 attempts while throwing for 136 yards.
Tioga quickly responded with a long drive of their own ending with a 15-yard touchdown run from sophomore Emmett Wood. The team’s 10 play drive was lead by the short ground game, not seeing a play that exceeded 10 yards.
A quick response by the Cardinals gave them a 14-7 lead from a Caden Bennett two-yard touchdown run. The cardinals brought the illusion of the game becoming a track meet, but both defenses quickly picked it up limited the scoring throughout the game.
After turning over their first possession of the second quarter, the Tigers capped off another long touchdown to tie the game back up at 14 a piece. Brown scored his second and final touchdown of the night off a one-yard surge into the end zone. Brown capped off the night with another game over 100 yards going for 174 rushing yards on 25 carries while accounting for a total of an even 200 yards.
Both defenses started to wake up as only 3 points came in the third quarter from either team. Brady Worthing has given Tioga a field goal in their last two games, proving to be a vital part of their team’s approach. This time Worthing’s field goal was good from 21 yards and gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead that stayed until the fourth quarter.
Newark Valley ate up clock with the run game in a portion of both the third and fourth quarter before finally executing on the long drive. Bennett tacked on a three-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 20-17 lead that stayed put after a failed two point conversion. Bennett racked up a total of 66 rushing yards on 14 carries and also caught two passes for 9 yards going for a total of 75 yards.
Being down by three with under six minutes remaining, the Tigers needed another miracle drive late in the game. Tioga’s 11-play 70-yard drive was capped off by a beautifully executed quarterback draw up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown run. It was enough to give Tioga a 24-20 lead that their defense hung on to after Newark Valley threatened to take the lead driving all the way inside the Tiger 15-yard line.
Senior Tioga quarterback, Brady Worthing spoke on his team’s game winning drive. “Every play we kept gaining five or six yards getting first downs, so I knew we had a chance,” said Worthing. “Once we got to the nine-yard line, I just knew I had to get in the end zone and win the game for us.”
Worthing did just that leading his team to a second straight victory running for a total of 65 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also threw for 13 yards on two completions and six attempts going for a total of 116 yards. Worthing also ended the night with a field goal and a touchdown.
After starting 2-0, the Tioga Tigers look strong as they look to take on the rest of the season with two difficult opponents behind them before the sectional playoffs begin. Tioga will be back in action next Friday, September 20 when they travel to take on the 0-2 Bobcats of Bainbridge-Guilford.