When Middletown's Jalin Marshall hauled in a short pass from quarterback Geovanne McKnight and took the ball in for a 75-yard touchdown on only the second play from scrimmage, it looked like the Middies might make quick work of Greater Miami Conference foe Sycamore.
But the Aviators, who entered the game with only one loss, didn't just hand Middletown its sixth win of the season. They caused problems for the Middletown offense and forced the Middie defense to make swift adjustments before Middletown was finally able to put them away by a score of 38-12 to remain unbeaten and go 3-0 in the GMC.
It definitely wasn't as easy as the Middies would have liked it to be.
On the Middies second possession, they were again able to drive downfield. Only this time, the Sycamore defense forced Middletown to settle for a 31-yard field goal.
"We started with offense and knew that we have to move the ball, move chains, try to run the ball. I think that's our number one focus each week," Coach Jason Krause said. "We did a pretty good job with that. But Sycamore's got a pretty good football team. Defensively, I think they did some things that slowed us down, and made us work a lot harder tonight than we like to.
Sycamore looked like it was poised to answer the Middletown score with one of their own, but instead of settling for a field goal, the Aviators attempted a fourth and one at the Middletown three. Their efforts came up short and the Middies took over on downs.
The Aviators did get on the board with 7:49 remaining in the second quarter when Kyle Sess connected with Darius Hillary for a 40-yard touchdown pass. That brought Sycamore within four after a missed extra point.
Middletown marched right down field and responded with a score of their own. Marshall was once again in on the act, this time at quarterback. The sophomore found William Peters in the end zone with a 13-yard pass giving the Middies a 17-6 halftime advantage.
Although Middletown held a lead at halftime, the Sycamore offense held the ball 15:25 minutes in the first half, compared to the Middies' 8:35.
Then, Sycamore made it interesting in the second half.
After going three and out to open the half, the Aviator defense came up with a big play when they recovered a fumble at the Middletown 10 yard line. Sycamore made the Middies pay for their mistake when Sess scored on a quarterback keeper to close the margin to only five points. Sycamore coach Scott Datillo opted to go for a two-point conversion, but Sess was sacked on the attempt.
"We talk about sudden change as a defensive unit and that was a sudden change," Krause said. "We didn't win that battle. We gave up a touchdown there. We pulled our guys off to the side and talked to our guys and said that's one mistake, we can't allow anymore. We made some change-ups and our kids executed it. We brought more guys in the box and got after it a little more."
The five-point deficit would be as close as Sycamore would get the rest of the way as the Middletown defense answered the demands of their coach.
Sycamore was able to hold to Middies to 17 points until the closing minutes of the third quarter. Middletown was given a short field starting on the Sycamore 27 and they took advantage. Running back Wayne Gregory took in a score from three yards out to give the Middies a little breathing room.
Middletown would add two more touchdowns including a 76-yard interception return by Frank Frazier.
Next week Middletown welcomes Mason and Sycamore heads to Lakota West.
Written by: Katie Budke, TriStateFootball.com