Boys Varsity Football · Braves keep TRC hopes alive with 24-3 win over Tippecanoe Valley

3 Tippecanoe Valley High School (Senior Night)
24 Maconaquah High School
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Tippecanoe Valley High School (Senior Night) vs Maconaquah High School
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“We were out-manned and out-sized. But the small guys prevailed” Maconaquah head coach Austin Colby said after watching his Braves knock off the Class 3A 16th-ranked (AP poll) Tippecanoe Valley Vikings, 24-3, here Friday evening.
The win, fifth in a row for the 5-2 Braves, kept Maconaquah within a game of unbeaten Southwood in the Three Rivers Conference title chase with two weeks remaining. The Braves (5-1 TRC) finish with road games at Wabash and Rochester. Southwood, now 7-0, hosts Rochester Friday and closes the regular season at Tipp Valley in two weeks. The Vikings are also hanging on to title hopes with a 5-1 league record. Tipp Vally is now 5-2 on the year.
Maconaquah’s opportunistic hard-hitting defense and special teams were the difference in this one as the Braves forced five turnovers and capitalized on three of them for 17 points. The Vikings entered the game averaging 28 points an outing. Colby’s “small guys” limited Tipp Valley to a 33-yard field goal as the second quarter ended.
By then MHS had stormed out to a 14-0 lead with a pair of Carter Little touchdowns.
Little broke loose for a 45-yard TD run on his first carry of the game and it was 7-0 after Richie Leary booted the PAT. Little’s touchdown put him over 1,000 rushing yards for the year and over 2,000 for his career. He finished with 137 yards on 25 carries and now trails only Cody Hicks, Philip Garnett and Aaron Overman on the MHS career rushing list.
His second TD came with 63 ticks left in the first half when he hauled in a 28-yard scoring strike from Nolan Kelly (Leary PAT good), giving Mac a 14-0 lead which they held until Valley settled for the field goal with no time remaining. Little’s TD catch moved him past Vernon Robinson into second place on the all-time scoring list with 200 points. Hicks is the career-scoring leader for the Braves with 314 during a stellar four-year career.
Two of the biggest plays of the night came in the third period…. on the first play and the last play. Leary’s radar-perfect short kick to start the quarter was pounced on by teammate Aaron McKinley along the Braves sideline. The strong-legged Leary shoved the lead to 17-3 with a 27-yard field goal with 8:09 showing.
After a change of possessions, Valley went to the air six times and moved to the Brave 13 with the aid of a pass interference call. On the final play of the quarter, Viking quarterback Tanner Trippiedi kept up the middle with a chance to pull Valley to within a score. As he was about to cross the goal line, a host of Braves converged and Little came up with a bone-jarring hit and fumble recovery at the one.
Now leading, 17-3, heading into the fourth stanza, the Braves used their patient ball-control ground attack to put the wraps on things. Taking over at their own one, they covered the 99 yards in 10 plays. The big play in the 5 1/2 minute scoring drive was a Kelly-to-Bryce Smith pass (good for 34 yards) on a crucial third-and-four situation.
Valley’s next possession ended with 5:24 left when Kelly leaped high to intercept a
Viking pass at the Maconaquah 10-yard line. The Braves then ate some clock to wrap up the “Senior Night” contest. They held the ball for 9:15 of the final quarter, while the Vikings had it for 2:45.
Nate Harding also picked off a Valley pass and led the Braves in tackles with seven along with Matt Ingram. Little had six stops to go along with his fumble recovery. Colin Deckard and McKinley were credited with five tackles, while Leary recovered the other Valley fumble.
The Braves rushed for 242 yards, while holding the Vikings to 74 on 22 carries.