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Tecumseh overcomes sluggish first half, penalties to defeat Elgin, 41-19

The Shawnee News-Star
Tecumseh quarterback Monte Valois fires a touchdown pass on his first attempt of the night against the Elgin Owls Friday night.

TECUMSEH - The Tecumseh Savages overcame a sluggish first half and a laundry list of penalties to defeat the visiting Elgin Owls, 41-19, Friday night.

With the win, the Savages improve to 2-1 on the season and will begin Class 4A District-2 play this Friday night.

“We just didn’t play well in the first half,” said Tecumseh head coach Ty Bullock. “Give Elgin some credit, they came out and hit us in the mouth.”

Tecumseh started the game on defense and forced an Elgin punt. After a nifty return by Gavyn Rogers, the Savages set up shop at the Elgin 39-yard line. Quarterback Monte Valois needed just one play to find paydirt. Valois found a wide open Dylan Graham for the score and after the Kevin Dodd point after, led to a 7-0 lead with 9:15 left in the first quarter.

The game then got sloppy and Elgin benefited from it. The Owls, on their fourth punt of the first quarter pounced on the mishandled short, bouncy punt at the Tecumseh 45-yard line. Elgin’s workhorse running back Matthew Lund scored two plays later from the 18-yard line and tied the game at 7-7 with :30 left in the first.

Tecumseh’s next drive was promising, they overcame two holding penalties and set up shop at the Elgin 45-yard line, but a Jake Trice extra effort fumble on a reception from Valois ended the threat and the Owls took advantage of the miscue. This time Lund found a hole in the middle of the defense and scampered 50 yards for the go-ahead score. The Owls led 13-7 with 7:30 left in the half.

The Savages then looked to the run game to find an answer. The answer was found on the strength of Kane Ainesworth. Ainesworth ran the ball five times on the eight-play 77-yard drive, for 48 of the yards. He capped off the march with a 2-yard smash to give the Savages the 14-13 lead with 4:40 remaining until half time.

The pesky Owls answered with a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive to end the half up 19-14. Lund scored from 19 yards out. Lund had a big game for Elgin carrying the ball 27 times for 151 yards and three scores.

The second half was a much different story. Tecumseh dominated the Owls in every phase of the game in the final 24 minutes of play.

“The assistant coaches came in at the half and made some great adjustments for us,” Bullock said.

Tecumseh’s defense rose to the challenge and simply stuffed the Owls. The Savages gave up just two first downs, both on personal foul penalties, and 44 yards of total offense.The offense improved as well, securing the ball and racking up 243 yards of a balanced second-half offense.

The Savages regained the lead with 7:44 left in the third on a beautiful throw from Valois to a streaking Trice from 48 yards out. Dodd missed the extra point to make the count 20-19, Savages.

On the next Elgin possession, defensive back Anthony O’Guinn picked off the Austin Elam pass at the Tecumseh 42-yard line and returned it 28 yards to the Owl 30-yard line. Ainesworth scored on the third play of the drive from 20 yards out to give the Savages the 27-19 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Tecumseh scored again at the end of the third quarter on Ainesworth’s third rushing touchdown of the game, this one from a yard out. Ainesworth finished with 101 yards on 12 carries for an 8-yard per carry average. Ainesworth was done running the ball, but not done scoring. Elgin, on their second drive of the fourth quarter, fumbled the ball at the Tecumseh 25-yard line. Elam coughed up the ball and Ainesworth scooped up the ball and bolted 25 yards for the game’s final score.

Tecumseh rolled up 393 yards of total offense including a strong performance by Valois. Valois went 9-of-16 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. The Savages were penalized 16 times for 145 yards.

“We had way too many penalties,” said Bullock. “We can’t get away with that against good teams. That is on me. I have to do a better job.”

The Savages will travel to face the Ada Cougars this Friday night in the first District 4A-2 contest of the season.