AKRON — The ending wasn't ideal, but the beginning was sure impressive Friday for the Jimtown football team in its Class 3A sectional semifinal game against Tippecanoe Valley.
The Jimmies jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and went on to post a 27-6 win over the Vikings.
"We've done that the last couple of weeks," said Jimtown coach Mike Campbell about the strong starts. "Unfortunately, we haven't finished the second half like we've wanted to."
Jimtown improved to 6-0 lifetime against Tippecanoe Valley, who hosted the Jimmies for the first time on Friday.
The Jimmies, who have won five straight games, will take a 7-4 record into next Friday's sectional final against No. 4-ranked Marian (10-1). The Knights beat West Noble, 42-20, in their regional semifinal game on Friday. Marian beat Jimtown, 17-3, during the regular season.
What helped the Jimmies prevail against Tippecanoe Valley was a bevy of running backs, along with a defense that forced four turnovers.
The first of those turnovers came on the first play of the game when Jimtown's Dustin Whitman picked off a pass thrown by Vikings' quarterback Tanner Trippiedi. The Jimmies gained possession at their own 35-yard line and would eventually take advantage of the turnover.
"(Tippecanoe Valley) tried to beat us deep and Dustin's a really good cover corner," Campbell said. "I think he saw what was developing in front of him and he pretty much ran the fade and he got there before they did."
After the interception, Jimtown went on a time-consuming 14-play drive, which was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Trey Washington.
Another miscue soon followed for the Vikings, as Clay Campbell's interception on Tippecanoe Valley's next drive gave the Jimmies the ball at the Vikings' 32-yard line.
What followed was a seven-play drive and a one-yard plunge from Campbell, which gave the Jimmies a 14-0 lead with :22 left in the first quarter.
"I think Clay jumped an out-route," Mike Campbell said about the interception. "It was huge to get us going to get those two turnovers and to capitalize on them."
Jimtown finished the first quarter with 21 plays, while Tippecanoe Valley had only six.
After forcing a Vikings' punt, the Jimmies would put together another long time-consuming drive. Ethan Devol's 18-yard touchdown run with 3:21 left in the second quarter capped a 12-play, 61-yard drive.
The key play on that drive was a fake punt by Jimtown on a 4th-and-5 at Tippecanoe Valley's 35-yard line. The ball was snapped to up-man Casey Pratt who ran eight yards for a first down.
It was a dominating first half performance by the Jimmies, who outrushed the Vikings, 147 yards to 55, and had 10 first downs compared to five for the hosts.
The carries were shared in the ground game for Jimtown during the first half. Devol rushed for 44 yards on seven carries, Cole Thompson added 37 yards on seven carries, Campbell totaled 29 yards rushing on four carries and Washington rushed for 28 yards on seven carries.
"The offensive line has been doing a great job," Mike Campbell said. "We've also been mixing it up in a good way, with a little inside and outside (running). That's been working for us. We were able to sustain drives even when we had some negative plays. We were able to get our playmakers into space."
In the second half, Jimtown got a fumble recovery from Whitman and an interception from Thad Pratt. Isaac Daniel's missed a 35-yard field goal after Whitman's fumble recovery at the Vikings' 16-yard line.
Jacob Werts' sack on Trippiedi on Tippecanoe Valley's drive following the missed field goal set up Jimtown's lone score of the second half. The sack gave the Vikings a 4th-and-15 at their own 15-yard line and forced them to punt. Jimtown got the ball at its own 49-yard line and would scored two plays later on a 49-yard run from Devol with 11:52 left in the game. After a missed extra-point, the Jimmies led 27-0.
"The turnover-bug got us," said Tippecanoe Valley coach Steve Moriarty. "But all the credit goes to their defense. They have one heck of a defense. I wish them the best of luck next week."
The Vikings lone score came with 4:03 left in the game when Trippiedi connected with Jacob Davis on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Tippecanoe Valley got the ball back quickly when Johnny Gonsalez recovered a Jimtown fumble at the Jimmies' 15-yard line with 3:22 left in the game.
But there would be points off that miscue for the Vikings, as Pratt's interception gave Jimtown the ball at its own seven yard line with 2:14 left in the game.
Both teams struggled to move the ball in the second half, as the Jimmies totaled only 101 yards and Tippecanoe Valley had 79.
Devol rushed for 127 yards on 17 carries for Jimtown. On the season, Devol has 992 yards rushing on 173 carries.
"Overall, it's a win," Mike Campbell said. "But next week to beat the Marian Knights we've got to play a lot better."
JIMTOWN 27, TIPPECANOE VALLEY 6
Scoring By Quarters
J — Trey Washington 3 run; Isaac Daniels kick; 4:45
J — Clay Campbell 1 run; Daniels kick; :22
J — Ethan Devol 18 run; Daniels kick; 3:21
J — Devol 49 run; kick failed; 11:52
T — Jacob Davis 16 pass from Tanner Trippiedi; run failed; 4:03
Jimtown: Rushing — Ethan Devol 17-127, Trey Washington 9-38, Clay Campbell 7-36, Cole Thompson 10-30. Passing — Campbell 4-10-30. Receiving — Washington 3-17, Thompson 1-13. Interceptions — Dustin Whitman, Campbell, Thad Pratt. Fumble recoveries — Whitman. Sacks — Jacob Werts 1.5, Yvens Reisaker .5.
Valley: Rushing — Jaydin Conley 15-60. Passing — Tanner Trippiedi 7-20-82 (3 int.), Conley 1-1-14. Receiving — Jalen Potter 5-70, Jacob Davis 3-26. Fumble recoveries — Johnny Gonsalez.