Talawanda’s final football game of 2012 was another loss for the Braves who fell behind to neighborhood and league rival Ross by a touchdown each quarter and could not muster the offense they needed on a rainy, windy, cold evening.
The 27-0 loss dropped Talawanda to 1-9 on the season and 1-6 in the Southwest Ohio Conference.
“It was a disappointing way to end the season. We did not play well enough to win. We had opportunities to capitalize. We showed signs of being a young football team,” first-year Talawanda coach J.D. Vonderheide said. “I feel it’s a better program than when I took over. The future is bright but this is the taste we will have for nine months until we start next August.”
Ross finished in a three-way tie for second place in the SWOC with 5-2 records along with Northwest and Edgewood. Mount Healthy won the SWOC title after defeating Northwest Friday night 28-7 in a showdown of league leaders.
Talawanda showed signs of improvement against Ross, stopping several drives, but not being able to push points across the goalline, hurt by penalties on several opportunities.
Ross got two touchdowns from sophomore Dalton Jones, who filled in for fellow sophomore John Kinkaid after Kinkaid suffered a broken leg. Jones finished with 167 yards on 11 carries and scoring runs of 3 and 2 yards. His longest run of the night was a 61-yard scamper that took the ball down to the Talawanda 5-yard line late in the second quarter. He also got the final two yards and the score.
Ross score got a 55-yard reception from quarterback Blake Ballard to senior Frank Heimkreiter in the third quarter.
The final score of the night was largely meaningless as it came on the last play of the game with time expired but it was an exclamation point on the night and the season for Ross.
It was a68-yard interception return by senior Brandon Fernandez. There was no kick attempt after the score.
Ross coach Brian Butts said he put Fernandez into the game on Talawanda’s last possession, knowing the Braves would throw the ball and he wanted to give his senior cornerback a chance at a career record. The senior already held the Ross season record with eight interceptions but his ninth one gave him the school career mark.
“Running it back for a score was icing on the cake,” Butts said.
Ross came on strong after a slow start this season and Butts wanted to get his seniors on the field together for one last time Friday and he did that.
“We were able to do some things. It was good that we were able to get our seniors in the game in tandem,” he said. “I’m proud that we started 1-3 and were able to finish 6-4.”
Talawanda got a solid ground performance from sophomore Maurice Thomas, who had 99 yards on 23 carries against Ross, giving him 2,305 all purpose yards this year, highlighted by 1,303 yards rushing and 15 rushing touchdowns. He also had three touchdowns on kickoff returns with 713 yards on 25 returns and had 22 more yards on three punt returns. He was also involved in the passing game with 267 receiving yards on 19 catches.
Butts praised the Braves and their improvement throughout the season, saying, “Tell the Braves they are doing a good job. We were worried coming in. We knew they play hard.”