Trojans stifle Starsâ€™ offense to win regional crown, 28-7
END OF THE LINEâ€”After surprising the critics with a sectional title, South Adams finally met their match in a loss at the regional level, 28-7, against Tri-Central. The Starsâ€™ finish 5-8 with their first sectional crown since 1996. (Photo by Kalvin Fiechter)
BERNE— The magic run for the Starfires fell flat on Friday night as Tri-Central came to town and handed the Berne boys a 28-7 loss at home to end their season at the regional championship.
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South Adams (5-8) had been living on the edge for the past two weeks with a win in the sectional semi-final game against county-rival Adams Central 14-13, followed by another thriller on the road at Southwood earning the title with a 40-39 overtime win.
Already with their first sectional title since 1996, the Starfires seemed to meet their match with the defensive-minded Trojans halting the team's progress with the football.
"Their defense up front was some of the best we've ever seen including Darius Stanley," praised SA coach Rick Burkhalter. "We knew we couldn't win every battle at the nose and our center position but we tried to win the majority. They are just a very good football team defensively."
Stanley had five tackles defensively but had several assists in the game keeping the middle clogged all night long. The Starfires had just 52 yards of total offense at the end of the first half but surprisingly, Tri-Central led by just one score at 14-7.
Eating up most of the clock in the first quarter with a long drive down field, the Trojans struck first with four minutes to go in the frame on a one-yard leap from Garrett Kelley, Central's leading rusher with more than 1,300 yards on the ground this year.
The drive took 4:39 and traveled 75 yards total on 10 plays.
The Stars would end the quarter moving the football into Trojan territory but a fourth and 15 forced a short punt in an attempt to pin Tri-Central deep.
After an SA defensive stand, Skylar Schoch put his fingerprints on the game early with a block of the punt as the Stars recovered on the 11-yard line in great position to score.
The opportunity was lost, however, as Derek Wanner's pass was incomplete on fourth down giving the ball right back four plays later but on the Trojan two-yard line.
Fortunes changed quickly again for the Stars as Cal Clouser picked off a Cody Howell pass at the 10-yard line bringing the ball back to the two and leading to a Drew LeFever score tying the game.