AKRON – An early set of statements carried Jimtown to a 27-6 win over Tippecanoe Valley Friday night at Death Valley.
A pair of interceptions led to 14 points in the first quarter for Jimtown. Valley went for broke right away with a bomb, but Dustin Whitman was waiting for it and pulled in the Tanner Trippiedi pass. The Jims marched right down the field and scored, capped by a Trey Washington three-yard run.
Jimtown again got in the way of a Trippiedi pass, this time Clay Campbell pulling in the interception at the Valley 30. After Campbell called his own number to get inside the Valley 15, Washington got the ball to the one, where Campbell snuck it in on fourth down to give the visitors a 14-0 lead.
“They tried to beat us deep and Dustin is a really good cover corner and he saw what was developing in front of him and he pretty much ran the fade for them and got to it before they did,” said Jimtown head coach Mike Campbell, whose team created six turnovers – three interceptions, a fumble recovery and two holds on fourth down. “Getting those two takeaways was huge to get us going.”
Another big play from Jimtown became one of the first daggers of the night. After Valley forced an incomplete pass on third and five on Jimtown’s next possession, the Jims decided to fake the punt with a direct snap to Casey Pratt, who ran right past the Valley rush and get the first down. Ethan Devol then ripped an 18-yard touchdown right up the gut to put Jimtown up 21-0.
“They run so many different plays in so many different formations and they do a very good job of keeping you off balance,” said Tippecanoe Valley head coach Steve Moriarty. “If you adjust to one thing, they sure enough will do another.”
Devol added a 49-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Jimtown up 27-0.
Valley, which had done a fine job throughout the season to make plays early in games, really didn’t respond until about the four minute mark of the fourth quarter. A pair of fourth down conversions to Jalen Potter allowed Trippiedi to hit Jacob Davis for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 4:03 to go. The conversion was no good.
Valley would have Johnny Gonsalez recover a fumble on Jimtown’s next drive, but a tipped pass was intercepted by Thad Pratt to close out Valley’s season and send Jimtown (7-4) to the sectional championship and a rematch at Mishawaka Marian (10-1) next Friday night. Marian won the Northern Indiana Conference matchup, 17-3, on Sept. 20. The Knights reached the final after handing West Noble its only loss of the season, 42-20, in Ligonier Friday night.
“We’re going to have to put together a four quarter game if we want to win a trophy next week,” said Campbell.
Jimtown was able to beat Valley at its own game – running the ball – to the tune of 251 yards on the ground to just 69 for the Vikings. Devol led the Jimmies with 17 carries for 126 yards and Washington had 10 totes for 40 yards. Jaydin Conley paced Valley with 15 carries for 57 yards. Jimtown did a whale of a job on Dakota Gaff, holding the back to just five yards on six carries. Gaff came into the night with a shade over 740 yards for the season, averaging almost seven yards per carry.
Valley, which played for a Three Rivers Conference title for the second straight year, also goes 1-1 in the state tournament for the second straight year after beating South Bend Washington last week. The Vikings bow out of the season 7-4 overall.
“I think the two turnovers right away really hurt us,” Moriarty said. “Those kids from Jimtown, their size and speed, they play hard for Mike and are well disciplined. The things that normally worked for us all season, when they didn’t work tonight, it was hard for us to turn the tide and get something working. Just a really tough loss.”