By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Heading into division play, the Tippecanoe football team wanted to make a statement.
It took the Red Devils all of about 20 seconds to do so.
Josh Burritt took a simple pitch to the left side untouched 65 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to kick off Friday night’s Homecoming game against Stebbins, and the rout was on from there as Tippecanoe dominated the Indians 52-0 to go into Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division play next week on a two-game winning streak.
“We wanted to start off fast,” Tippecanoe coach Joel Derge said. “We wanted to be aggressive offensively and defensively tonight, and that’s kind of what we did. We scored early and often, and defensively we played pretty well against the spread offense, which last week we did not defend very well. We’re excited where the team is going. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Tippecanoe improved to 3-2 with the win heading into Week 6’s critical matchup at Troy, while Stebbins remained winless at 0-5.
Burritt’s touchdown jaunt on the first play of the opening drive was just the beginning of a 45-point explosion for the Red Devils in the first half as Tippecanoe turned three Stebbins turnovers into points, as well as cashing in on a surprise onside kick early in the game to take control and never look back.
With the score already 7-0 Tippecanoe with 11:40 left in the first, the Devils recovered an Indian fumble on their second play from scrimmage and took over at the Stebbins 28-yard line. Three plays later, fullback Cade Beam burst through the middle of the line for an 18-yard touchdown to put the Devils up 14-0 with 9:49 remaining in the opening quarter.
Instead of kicking away on the ensuing kickoff, Tippecanoe hit Stebbins with a surprise onside kick and recovered it at midfield, then the Devils took five plays to march in for another touchdown. This time, quarterback Troy Taylor hit Mason Gostomsky on play action with a 19-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-0 with 7:30 still on the clock.
Stebbins got its first first down of the game after a facemask flag on Tippecanoe, but on the sixth play of the drive the Devils jarred the ball loose again and recovered, this time taking over at the Stebbins 37. Six plays later, Beam cashed in his second score of the night with a 9-yard run up the gut, and the Devils led 28-0 with 2:30 yet remaining in quarter one — which was where the score remained when the first finally came to a close.
“Our No. 1 goal was to run the ball, and we did that. Our No. 2 goal was to win the turnover battle, and we did that, too,” Derge said. “We forced three turnovers in the first half and gained a possession with that onside kick, and we were able to capitalize offensively every time we went to the red zone tonight, so it was good to see that our guys are finishing off drives.”
Tippecanoe wasn’t done, though, as Taylor hit Burritt in stride over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the second quarter, making the score 35-0 with 11:33 left until halftime.
Stebbins held the ball for eight plays on its next possession before being forced to punt, but the Indians’ Kelby Cox came up with an interception to momentarily halt Tippecanoe’s momentum. The Devils forced a three-and-out and took over at their own 27, though, and Jackson Yeager broke a 52-yard run to once again put Tippecanoe in scoring position. A holding penalty waved off a 9-yard touchdown run by Yeager, but three plays later he was able to finish off the drive on a 5-yard scoring run, giving Tippecanoe a 42-0 lead with four minutes left in the half.
The Indians attempted to run a hurry-up offense on its final possession of the half and even drove into Tippecanoe territory with slightly more than a minute on the clock. But a pass deflected off a Devil defender and into the hands of Adam Liskey for a late interception and Taylor broke a 40-yard run down the sideline to get the Devils into field goal range with 30 seconds left. A couple more runs set up Ben Sauls with a 43-yard attempt on the final play of the half, and he casually booted it through to make the score 45-0 at the break.
Josh Riffel added a 20-yard touchdown run for the only score of the second half as the third and fourth quarters were played under a running clock via the OHSAA’s mercy rule.
Of course, after a school record 524 rushing yards in Week 4’s win over West Carrollton, Derge still thinks there is room to improve on the Devils’ Week 5 performance.
“We told the guys at halftime that we felt like we were blocking worse tonight than some of our other games this season,” Derge said. “I thought we had some explosive plays, but at the same time as coaches, we always look for something we can correct. The offensive line broke some records last week, but tonight they didn’t. We’re going to go to the film and correct those little mistakes.”
Tippecanoe now travels to 4-1 Troy for a Week 6 showdown to open GWOC American North Division play.
“It will be two tough, physical football teams going at it,” Derge said. “Troy has got us the last two years, but we’re going to put a good gameplan in tomorrow — and we know they will, too. Two teams that know each other pretty well, starting in league play, and the team that executes best will win the game.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.