Start off season with a loss
It was figured to be a balanced game with Gillespie’s strong offense and the superb Vandalia defense, but it did not end up that way. The Vandals lighted their side of the scoreboard up first as the noise level from the home side of the field was almost unbearable.
The Miners opted to receive to start the game, but Vandalia took over within one minute after junior Derrick Tiburzi fumbled the ball on the third down. Within two minutes, Vandalia was leading the game 7-0 and it would not stop there.
The Miners opened their second series with 5 first downs as Henderson passed for nearly 30 yards and Tiburzi rushed for 15 yards. After the Miners recovered their own fumble, Henderson was faced with a long second down as the Miners were nearly 30 yards away from the end zone. After gaining just 5 yards in three plays, the Vandals took over after the turnover on downs.
The Vandals marched down the field for the second time and found the end zone for the second time in the first quarter with the help of Ryan Ambuehl’s 69 yard run. Trailing 14-0 now, the Miners were able to attempt a short comeback during their remaining two series on offense. The team came up short during their third series as they were forced to punt it away and their fourth series carried the game over into the second quarter.
With the humble wind behind them now, the Miners were destined to find the end zone. The wish would come true as quarterback Michael Henderson got the quarter off to a good start. His ten yard rush brought another first down to set the black and orange squad nearly 49 yards away from the end zone. The spread offense then made it rain as Henderson aired it out to Brandon Provost for a 45 yard pass. Derrick Tiburzi rushed the remaining short 4 yards to punch the first points on the board for the Miners as the score read 14-7.
The Vandals won the remaining of the quarter as the Miners turned the ball over on their second series and ran out of time on their third series. Vandalia had plenty of time, however. The Vandals were able to post 14 additional points to the home side of the scoreboard after two short rushes to give them a 28-7 lead at the half.
The Miners would kick off to start the second half. It was a quick second half, but the Vandals had enough time to add one touchdown in each quarter. The Miners had the ball just one series in the third quarter and turned it over on downs despite gaining three first downs in the series. Vandalia took over and later turned the turnover into a touchdown after a 15 yard run.
Trailing 35-7 at the beginning of the final quarter, the Miners had plenty of time to add some more points on the board. It didn’t come until the final minutes of the game, but the Gillespie squad was able to tack on a touchdown to the away side of the scoreboard after the special teams recovered the ball hiked over the punter’s head. Logan Cooper later scored on the 1 yard rush.
The Miner touchdown came after the Vandal’s sixth one in the game. Luke Smith, of Vandalia, was able to break away from the Miner defense for a 43 yard rush to extend the home team’s lead. Vandalia had the ball up until the final buzzer sound as they handed the Miners their first defeat of the season, 42-14.
Michael Henderson was the biggest force for the Miners as he passed for 149 yards and rushed for 47 yards. Tiburzi was an equal force on both offense and defense as he led the team in rushing yards and tackles with 47 yards and 8 tackles respectively. Brandon Provost had the hot hands for the team with his one reception for 45 yards. Chris Halpin, junior, gathered 44 yards on three receptions while Blake Peterson had 23 yards on two receptions.
The Miners (0-1) will take on the Litchfield Panthers next Friday, August 31 in Gillespie. The Panthers (0-1) got demolished by Greenville last Friday with a score of 49-21. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 at night.
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