With the homestanding Falcons leading Cloverdale 16-12, it looked like a great second halfwas in store.
Things went south for Cloverdale after the half, though, as North Vermillion (6-5) poured it on Cloverdale (3-8) for a 52-12 victory.
After the game, Clover coach John Butler reflected on how a 12-8 lead in the second quarter turned into 44 straight Falcon points.
"To be perfectly honest, we got outcoached. They made better adjustments at halftime than we did -- that's the bottom line. I take full responsibility for that," Butler said.
"They did a fantastic job over there of getting their kids ready. Their game plan was solid."
Things started out great for the Clovers. They took the opening possession downfield methodically, led by the running of senior Jordan Brinkman.
With Brinkman's running established, they took to the air, with quarterback Jordan Wilson going 3-for-3 for 44 yards. The final six yards came on a scoring play to Chuck Strunk, putting CHS up 6-0 with 6:36 remaining in the quarter.
"We started off in plan A -- running the ball at them. They're a young football team and we thought we'd take advantage of that and kind of bully them up front," Butler said. "We were able to do that pretty consistently early on and hit them with some play action."
The Falcons answered later in the quarter when Kody Zumwalt ran 35 yards for their first score. Zumwalt added a 2-point conversion to put the Falcons ahead 8-6.
The Clovers, however, had an answer early in the second quarter. Ethan Atwood made a great catch on a tipped ball to set the Clovers up at the Falcon 4-yard line.
Two play later, Zack Couse scampered in from two yards out for a 12-8 lead.
No one could have guessed the Clovers' final score would come with 9:47 remaining in the second.
The Falcons retook the lead on a 20-yard pass play Dalton McCool to Lane Clark and a 2-point conversion from the same connection.
Going into the half trailing by four, it appeared the Clovers' biggest problem lie in failing on their conversions.
In the second half, though, the Falcon defense was swarming, giving Brinkman no room to run and sacking Wilson several times -- enough that he lost 50 yards running the ball on the night.
The Falcon offense, on the other hand, scored almost at will. Wade Harrison caught a 51-yard touchdown pass, Brayden Woodard scored on passing plays of 14 and 45 yards, and McCool ran 19 yards for another score.
"We had what we thought was a solid plan A and plan B. Plan A started to falter a little bit and they made some great adjustments at halftime," Butler said. "They did some good things with their defense and they had some things in the pocket that we had no plan for.
"They started blitzing really well on the backside off the edge on our play actions. We didn't have enough time to throw," he added. "We kind of got into panic mode and that's when things started to fall apart."
The panic mode showed most in Wilson's four second-half interceptions, compared to three completions to his teammates.
McCool took one of those picks 60 yards for a score.
It was a forgettable second half, but one Butler hopes is just a bump in the road in building a program.
"Everybody in the program -- myself, every parent, every kid, down to youth league -- we're excited about football in Cloverdale," the first-year coach said. "Coming here, it was a situation where we saw we could build a program from youth league to varsity. The expectations were not very high for these kids this year.
"Credit goes to these seniors and this coaching staff -- they did a wonderful job of coming together. These seniors laid a foundation for the future of this football program."
Cloverdale will graduate Brinkman, Trevor Lockwood, Justin Grever, Ethan Atwood, Couse, Strunk, Roger Reed, William Whitinger, Braxtyn Sinclair and Brian Dale.
Brinkman led the rushing attack with 82 yards on 21 carries. Wilson finished the night 9-of-21 for 116 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions.
Strunk caught four balls for 50 yards. Atwood was close behind with three four 45 yards.
Atwood also had a pair of interceptions.
Even at 3-8, 2011 can be considered a step forward for Cloverdale, with its first tournament victory since 2006. The coach just wants to see his program continuing to take steps in the right direction.
"We're happy with our season and it's a great thing to build on for next year," Butler said.
At North Vermillion
Class A Sectional 39
Cloverdale 6 6 0 0 -- 12
N. Vermillion 8 8 22 14 -- 52
C: Strunk 6-yd. pass from Wilson (kick failed) 6:36
N: Zumwalt 35-yd. run (Zumwalt run) 0:28
C: Couse 2-yd. run (pass failed) 9:47
N: Clark 20-yd. pass from McCool (Clark pass from McCool) 3:33
N: Harrison pass from McCool (Zumwalt run) 11:22
N: Woodard pass from McCool (run failed) 5:12
N: McCool 60-yd. interception return (Zumwalt pass from McCool) 1:28
N: McCool 19-yd. run (Scott kick) 9:06
N: Woodard 45-yd. pass from McCool (Scott kick) 1:35
Rushing (35 carries, 35 yards) -- Brinkman 12-82, Couse 5-12, Lockwood 1-3, Brumfield 1-(-5), Wilson 7-(-50), TEAM 1-(-6)
Passing (9-21, 1 TD, 4 INT, 116 yards) -- Wilson 9-21-1-4, 116 yards
Receiving -- Strunk 4-50, Atwood 3-45, Lockwood 2-24
NORTH VERMILLION (6-5):
Rushing (33 carries, 133 yards) -- Zumwalt 17-68, McCool 11-62, Woodard 3-6, Clark 1-4
Passing (14-18, 4 TD, 2 INT, 273 yards) -- McCool 14-18-4-2, 273 yards
Receiving -- Woodard 4-113, Clark 4-66, Harrison 2-61, Zumwalt 4-30