Lions lose at Horseshoe Classic
By James Costello
INDIANAPOLIS — The loss of their star running back left Bremen reeling early. A disastrous third quarter spelled the Lions’ undoing.
Bremen surrendered two scores and the lead in an error-filled third frame, ultimately falling 21-7 to Tippecanoe Valley at the Horseshoe Hall of Fame Classic at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday.
A fumble on the Tippy Valley 14 cued a quick four-play, 83-yard scoring drive by the Vikings as Tanner Andrews hit Nolan Sponseller on a flea flicker for a 73-yard catch-and-carry score at the 6:47 mark of the third to cut Bremen’s lead to a tenuous 7-6 with a failed kick.
Tippy Valley recovered the ensuing kick-off, a high knuckle ball that was captured by Jarred Littlejohn at the Bremen 38, and the Vikings struck again with a six-play march — including a key fourth down conversion with three yards to go on the Bremen 31 — bringing the score to its final margin with Jacob Ritchey’s PAT.
The Lions had a chance to swing the momentum back with another score late in the frame but couldn’t punch it in on a fourth and goal at the Viking 1-yard line, and Bremen lost for the first time in 15 regular season games, dropping them out of the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Class 2A poll, where they had been ranked fourth headed into Saturday’s contest.
“Too many mistakes to win a football game,” said Bremen head coach Bob Holmes. “We’re not going to win if we play like that. Whoever makes the least amount of mistakes is usually going to win the ball game. If you can’t score from the 1-yard line when you’re on offense, you don’t deserve to win the game, it’s as simple as that.”
The Lions were left reeling early when senior running back Reid Zellmer was taken out of the game with a collarbone injury on the second play from scrimmage after rattling off 14 rushing yards in two carries.
Bremen struggled to move the ball on the ground for the rest of the game, putting up just 52 rushing yards total.
“Reid’s got a collarbone issue. We’re not sure what it is; we’ll figure it out after it gets addressed at the doctor’s office,” Holmes said. “But the trainer deemed him not able to play, and he’s our starting tailback and starting corner. It happened on the (second) play of the game, and it seemed like we were reeling from then. That’s something we have to do though, we have to adjust. The next guy in line has to step up and do the job.”
Bremen saw limited success with its passing game as well as the Lions were dominated at the line, and Kai Slough finished 4-of-18 with four interceptions and just 72 yards through the air.
“We didn’t pick up the blitz very well, let’s start from there,” said Holmes. “I think that had a lot to do with our problem. We didn’t pick up their blitz and give Kai enough time to throw the football. I think it starts from there — it’s hard to throw the football when you’re on your back, and that’s where Kai spent a lot of time tonight.”
After a defensive standoff between the two teams in the first quarter, the Lions took the initial lead in the second frame when Slough hit Ryan Zellmer from 9 yards out with 9:28 on the clock to cap off a six-play, 20-yard scoring drive that put Bremen up 7-0 with Lucas Schlarb’s PAT.
But Bremen managed just one real threat from there, a 62-yard drive that ultimately stalled on the Tippy Valley 1 with 25 ticks left in the third quarter.
“Tippy Valley played very, very hard tonight, and you’ve got to tip your hat to them,” said Holmes. “They earned the victory, and all of our mistakes had a lot to do with how well they were playing.”
Tippy Valley improves to 1-1 on the year, while Bremen slides to 1-1.
While the outcome was definitely not what the Lions had in mind, Holmes said it was an honor to be selected for the joint IHSAA/ Indianapolis Colts venture, and he hopes it will light a fire in his players to get back to Lucas Oil for the state championship.
“Great experience to get down here and feel this atmosphere, and hopefully spark them to want to get back here at the end of the season,” said Holmes. “To have an opportunity to get to do this is tremendous. I’d like to personally thank the Colts for giving us this opportunity. What an experience for these young men.”
• TIPPECANOE VALLEY 21,
At Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Tippy Valley: 0 6 15 0 — 21
Bremen 0 7 0 0 — 7
B — Ryan Zellmer 9-yd pass from Kai Slough (Lucas Schlarb kick), 9:28
TV — Jarred Littlejohn 38-yd interception return (kick failed), 6:41
TV — Nolan Sponseller 73-yd pass from Tanner Andrews (Chris Torpy run), 6:47
TV — Ben Shriver 5-yd run (Jacob Ritchey kick), 4:43
First downs: 8 16
Rushing yards: 52 90
Passing: (comp.-att.-int): 5-19-4 14-23-4
Yards passing: 92 184
Fumbles-lost: 2-1 0-0
Penalies-yds lost: 2-10 2-9
Bremen leader stats
Rushing: Kevin Heckaman 11-35, Eric Knepper 10-27, Reid Zellmer 2-14
Passing: Kai Slough 4-18-4 for 72 yds, 1 TD; Ryan Zellmer 1-1 for 20 yds
Receiving: Ryan Zellmer 3-37, 1 TD; Bobby Cornett 1-35; Heckaman 1-20
Tippy Valley leader stats
Rushing: Justin Gunter 13-56, Chris Torpy 7-35
Passing: Ben Shriver 13-21-4 for 111 yds; Tanner Andrews 1-2-0 for 73 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Andrews 4-36; Gunter 3-13; Nolan Sponseller 2-86, 1 TD; Dayton Cohagan 2-27
Records: Bremen 1-1, Tippy Valley 1-1