For the fourth time in 34 years, Cloverdale has advanced to the semifinals of the IHSAA football sectional.
The Clovers beat South Vermillion, 43-35, in Friday's opening round of the Class 2A Sectional 29 tournament. In dramatic fashion, the game came down to the team with the last possession.
"This was an exciting football game all the way to the end," Cloverdale coach Jamie Steffy said.
After both teams scored in the first quarter, the gloves were thrown off and the rumble began.
The Clovers scored two additional touchdowns in the second quarter. Aaron Smith ran one touchdown on a 13-yard rush, while Brandon Mescall ran three yards for the other score. The Wildcats scored their only touchdown in the quarter when Keith Montecillo broke through the Cloverdale defensive line and ran the ball for 63 yards.
The Clovers went into the half winning, 21-14, but South Vermillion would soon be back into the game at the start of the second half.
The Wildcats proved to the Clovers that they are team not to be taken lightly despite their 1-8 regular season record.
On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, South Vermillion ran the ball back 82 yards for a touchdown. But a failed two-point conversion would cost the Wildcats their chance to lead.
"This was team that was better than their (1-8) record showed," Steffy said.
The Clovers would go on and score two more touchdowns, and the defense would pick up a safety by the end of the quarter.
"Our offense gave them a little trouble with our double handoffs," Steffy said.
The Wildcats scored a touchdown of their own when Montecillo broke through the Clovers defense again to make another huge 54-yard run.
The Wildcats outscored the Clovers in the fourth quarter 8-6, after Smith picked off one of Joe Bushes passes and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
The Clovers were able to put together 264 total yards, with 167 of them coming from the ground, while the Wildcats gained 310 total yards. South Vermillion was only able to get 149 yards in the first half, mainly from one huge 44-yard pass and a 63-yard run.
The Clovers are now 5-5 on the season.
"We have won five games so far this year and I think that is good for us considering we lost eight starters from last year's team and have only four seniors on the team," he said. "We played Speedway early in the season with a team that had very little varsity experience and we now have advanced to the semifinal round of the sectional. That just shows how well this team has grown this season.
"There was two groups that gave us this win (Friday), the players for prepared to play this game and the coaches for preparing this team for this game," he said.
The Clovers now play Tri-West Friday. Although Steffy didn't know if he was playing Tri-West or Cascade after the game, he knew either team would be a challenge.
"It doesn't matter to me who play next week because there was 64 teams that came into this tournament tonight and now there are only 32 teams left and we are one of them," Steffy said
The Clovers were led Friday by Chase Haltom who threw for 97 yards and rushed one touchdown. Aaron Dayhuff led the team with three touchdowns, one coming from Haltom on an 18 -yard pass and the other two coming from the ground. Smith followed behind with two touchdowns while Mescall had one touchdown, while rushing for 71 yards on nine carries. Christian Cheatham led the team in receiving with 48 yards coming form three catches.
At South Vermillion
First round of sectional 29
Cloverdale 7 14 16 6 - 43
S. Vermillion 7 7 13 8 - 35
C - Haltom 1 run (Keefer kick) 4:31
SV - Bush 44 pas to Walker (Vandivier kick) 1:22
C - Smith 13 run 7:40
C - Mescall 3 run (Conversion) 4:20
SV - Montecillo 63 run (Vandivier kick) 4:01
SV - Bush 82 return 11:46
C - Dayhuff 2 run (conversion)10:06
C - Safety 3:14
C - Haltom 18 pass to Dayhuff :34
C - Smith 32 interception return 11:44
SV - Bush 65 pass to Montecillo
First downs - C (17), SV (10)
Fumbles/Lost C 1-1, SV 0-0
C (6-13-97-1-0) Haltom 6-13, 97 yds, 1 TD, 0 Int.
SV (7-12-146-2-1) Bush 7-12, 146 yds, 2 TD, 1 Int.
C (42-167-6) Morgan 13-47, Smith 9-42 2 TD, Mescall 9-71, 1 TD, Haltom 5-1, 1 TD, Dayhuff 2-6, 2 TD
SV (18-164-2) Montecillo 10-135, 2 TD, Vandivier 6-20, Bush 2-9
C - Cheatham 3-48, Morgan 1-19, Smith 1-12, Dayhuff 1-18, 1 TD
SV - Walker 1-44, Montecillo 2-71, Perchbacher 1-10, Vandivier 2-9