SPENCER - Cloverdale's up and down season continued Friday night following a 20-8 loss to Owen Valley.
The Patriots' senior night was a joyous one for the hosts, though the game itself was never at hand until the very end.
Neither side was able to move the ball on its opening possessions. On Cloverdale's second possession, the Clovers began to make steady progress and found themselves inside the Owen Valley 10 for six plays.
The Clovers came away with no points, however, following a sneak by quarterback Jordan Brinkman that was judged short of the goal line and a fumble on the next snap the Clovers lost.
It was a turning point in the game, but Cloverdale head coach Kyle Winkler saw the previous play differently than the officials.
"Well, we drove the ball right down their throats. We had the ball punched in and the referees....and then we turned it over. We beat ourselves with turnovers and penalties. Owen Valley did not beat Cloverdale. Cloverdale had penalties and turnovers and stopped themselves," Winkler said.
Both sides traded possessions again after the fumble. Owen Valley's second possession after the fumble saw them revert to a more compact offense, including three backs in the backfield, and began to hammer away at the Cloverdale defense.
The Patriots would score on the 11-play drive, capped off by a 13-yard run from senior fullback Dylen Hutcherson. The extra point attempt was no good and the Patriots took an early 6-0 lead.
Cloverdale would lose the ball again on its next possession after Brinkman missed Donovan Scisney with an option pitch. The Clovers stopped the Patriots from scoring before halftime, leaving the score at 6-0.
fter Cloverdale received the ball to start the second half, Scisney ran three times and scored on a 37-yard romp. He also added a two point conversion after an offside call against Owen Valley on the PAT attempt to give the Clovers an 8-6 lead.
Owen Valley couldn't answer on their next possession but were back in business when Matt Amos picked off Brinkman near midfield three plays later. The Patriots again hammered the Cloverdale defense, scoring when Caleb Jones burst through from three yards out for a 14-8 lead.
The Clovers would have to show their resolve again later when Owen Valley went deep into Cloverdale territory on their next possession. This time the Clovers held out the Patriots on their own four-yard line to keep within striking distance, though buried deep in their own territory.
Cloverdale could not move and punted away. Owen Valley managed a first down on their next possession, but soon returned the ball themselves. Two plays after Scisney moved the ball near midfield, he missed a toss from Brinkman and Hutcherson recovered the ball.
Owen Valley made the extra possession count as Evan White ran in untouched to extend the Patriot lead to 20-8. Brinkman was picked off with a minute and a half to go before Owen Valley took a couple of knees and walked off the field winners.
While Winkler was fired up about his squad's resiliency, mistakes kept haunting the Clovers all night.
"They've got big kids, He said." They've got more bodies, bigger bodies. But we came out there and punched them in the face the best we could. We've got a couple injuries here and there and we've got guys going both ways. They've got guys only going one way.
"Our hearts and pride were out there, knocking them around and the only way they got the ball is if we turned it over to them. We gave them opportunity after opportunity because of our fumbles. We beat ourselves it what it boils down to," Winkler said.
The regular season finale will not be much easier as the Clovers travel to undefeated North Putnam Friday. It will be a long week for both players and coaches, as Winkler knows well.
"Well, there's going to be a lot of distractions coming up this week," Winkler noted. "The sectional draw is Sunday night. Seeing who we get, that's going to affect our psychology going throughout the week. The loss, the way we lost it, is going to affect our psychology through the week.
"Our mentality for the week is, 'strap your helmet on, get our work hat on, we're going to go at it.' I don't care what the ranking is for North Putnam. We're going to hit them every single play and we're not going to be scared about it and we're just going to play some football," Winkler added.
"We've got nothing else to lose now. We're 4-4 now and we've got go out there and play with all our heart and all our pride."
At Owen Valley
Cloverdale 0 0 8 0 - 8
Owen Valley 0 6 8 6 - 20
3:29 - Hutcherson 13 yard run (XP no good) 6-0
10:38 - Scisney 37 yard run (Scisney 2-point conversion) 6-8
4:07 - Jones 3 yard run (2-point conversion good) 14-8
2:04 - White 4 yard run (XP no good) 20-8
Next game - Cloverdale travels to North Putnam to conclude the regular season next Friday at 7 p.m.