Game of the Week

Titans and Riders send 2016 out in style in 50-43 Triway win


Have you ever watched tennis on TV and watched the crowd rather than the tennis? The entire mass tends to move their heads together collectively like a metronome, as the ball goes back and forth from side to side.

The Orrville versus Triway football game Friday, Oct. 28 at Triway High School was a lot like that.

The scoring frenzy was such that it had fans watching up and down the field in a frantic motion, and when the final play had been made, and it was the final play that determined the outcome, it was Triway that had earned a 50-43 victory in a week 10 rivalry game that no one will soon forget.

Triway quarterback Nick Sparr opened the scoring with a 3-yard run, giving the Titans an 8-0 lead after a two-point conversion. Orrville’s Logan Domer then hit Jake Fitzgerald — get used to hearing that — and they tied it at 8-8.



After a rare stop by Orrville, the Red Riders took the lead when Domer dropped a long bomb perfectly into the hands of a sprinting Fitzgerald for a 65-yard score, and it was 15-8 Orrville. Triway responded by moving downfield, and a nifty bit of running by Braden Biggs after a screen pass cut Orrville’s lead to 15-14.

Trevan Hall, who seemed to be everywhere all night long, gave the Titans back the lead at 22-15 when he scampered around the left end for a 26-ayrd run.

The Red Riders then drove downfield and looked like they had scored, but an offside penalty wiped away that score and the Red Riders turned the ball over on the next play. Orrville forced a turnover itself to get the ball back on the Triway 28, and three plays later Domer had found Payton Brown for a score, but that too was wiped away by one of what seemed like one hundred flags on the night.

Triway held a 22-15 lead at the half, but things were about to go into hyper-drive for both offenses.

Cole Hissong took over at quarterback for a play, and quick-timed it in for a 15-yard score to put the Titans up 30-15. However, Orrville’s Jacob Hershberger pounded his way through a nice hole provided by the Red Riders’ line and scored from 20 to make it 30-22. After a stop, Orrville took over, and Domer found Brandon Luangraj for a monster 69-yard scoring strike to tie things at 30 apiece.

The Titan’s answer to that was a perfect scoring strike from Sparr to Hall, and Triway was back up 37-30.

However, it was time for a little Fitz’magic” when Fitzgerald returned the kick 60 yards to set up a 23-yard Hershberger score. However, the ever-present Hissong blocked the point after, which loomed large.

Fitzgerald then picked off a Sparr deep ball, and Domer turned that into a TD moments later when Austin Domer plowed in from 3-yards out.

Now trailing, Triway was thwarted on offense, and Orrville was looking to put some distance between themselves and the Titans. However, Titans junior Mason Phillips had other ideas, and picked off a Domer offering and rolled 40 yards to set up Triway, which punched it in for the one point lead.

“That was a huge play,” Triway head coach Tony Lee said of Phillips’ pick. “I kept on waiting. I was like, ‘give us a pick six.’ But I’ll take the pick. We had our back against the wall right there.”

The Titans ended up faking a punt and getting a huge first down, and Hissong, again at quarterback, hit Dylan Eshler for a huge gainer. Sparr then found Hall on a 6-yard score to put the Titans back up 43-36 with just under seven minutes to play.

Orrville responded with a Domer to Domer connection, Logan to Austin to and it was tied at 43 with 3:12 left to play.

That set the stage for a Triway drive that culminated on Hissong sprinting around the right edge, diving for the pylon and giving the Titans a lead with just over one minute to play. While the game was an offensive explosion of one big play after another, it seemed almost incredulous that the guy making a lot of the big plays, especially in the end, was Hissong, who had a club for a right hand.

He said the victory was a total team effort, and added that having the opportunity to score the game-winning touchdown was truly an honor as well as shear adrenaline-pumping excitement.

“I made the two Orrville players miss, and then I saw the pylon out in front of me, and that was the only thing I was thinking about,” Hissong said. “I saw an Orrville player in the corner of my eye, but I was thinking touchdown. It was insane. There is no better feeling right now.”

One minute seemed like a lifetime in this game, and Orrville came clawing back. The Red Riders drove down to the 24, where they had one last gasp at tying or winning the game. However, Domer’s pass to Fitzgerald in the corner of the end zone sailed just out of bounds, and Triway celebrated.

“We had our backs against the wall at times, we fought back, and we gave them a lot of opportunities and we took advantage of some of the opportunities they gave us,” Triway coach Tony Lee said. “I am very proud of our kids. In the end, we had to make one more play than them, and we ran that Q-trap, which we hadn’t run all night, and was a little different look.”

“There wasn’t anyone stopping anybody tonight,” Orrville coach Doug Davault said. “We just ran out of time tonight. But we can’t make the kind of mistakes we made against a team like Triway, with the way they play on offense. We did have a lot of tremendous individual performances, and we showed a lot of heart and grit staying in this game. We just had trouble getting over the hump, but hopefully this will lead into something special for us next year, because we have a young team.”

The emotions of a rival game
“It’s probably the most emotional game I have ever played in my life,” said Fitzgerald. “All I knew is that I was going to put everything on the line for this one, and so were my teammates. That’s what we did. We didn’t get the result that we wanted, but that happens sometimes, but it wasn’t for lack of effort

A senior, Fitzgerald said going through four years of football as a Red Rider was something he will cherish. And going out with his team fighting for every single inch is the way he wants to remember the final game of his career.

“I am going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Fitzgerald said. “This is the closest thing I have to a family outside of my blood family. I will always remember these guys.”


  • “This has turned into a pretty good rivalry, and you can expect this kind of an effort from both of these teams every time they face each other,” Orrville coach Doug Davault said. “It’s one of those games where you’re going to see something special, and people got to see plenty of special tonight on both sides.”


  • “It was a rough back-and-forth game all night long,” Triway jack-of-all-trades Trevan Hall said. “It was just gut-wrenching out there. You never knew what was going to happen, but I always had faith in our guys that we would pull through. This feels so good to play well, but as long as everyone is making plays and we pull out a win, I don’t care who gets it done. It’s just an special night and a night that is so emotional for all of us, because we know how much it means to the seniors and to our fans.”




  • Give the Guy a Hand

Cole Hissong played the finest game of his career. The junior was a factor in just about every way possible, which is amazing considering neither he himself nor his head coach were even sure he would play in the game.

Considering that Hissong turned into the key guy ingredient in the passing game, tacked on two touchdowns including the game-winner and made an interception as well as defending a number of passes defensively, It makes one wonder what he could do with two good hands.

The junior receiver and defensive back had a heavily wrapped club on his right hand, thanks to an accident on the field that saw him get it caught in a face mask. Neither Hissong or Lee were sure if he would even take the field for this one, but it turned out to be very fortuitous for the Titans that he did.

“There is nothing that compares to having two touchdowns in week 10,” Hissong said. “I knew we would get it done tonight and I am extremely proud of our guys. I wasn’t even sure I was going to play tonight, but I stuck it out, and I am glad I did.”


  • Little man, biggest heart

Orrville lineman Caleb Criss doesn’t stand very tall. He doesn’t way a ton, and he isn’t your typical lineman. Weighing in at a light 165 pounds and standing all of 5-footm 4-inches, Criss is not the guy anyone would point to as the guy who would set the school’s all-time single season sack record.

Yet there he was, in the third quarter, dragging down Titans QG Nick Sparr to set the new school mark at 16 sacks.

“He’s all heart, desire and smarts out there,” Orrville head coach Doug Davault said of Criss. “I would take 22 Caleb Criss’ any day, any time. He is as good as it goes, and you know you are getting his maximum effort, and everything he has on every single play, both physically, mentally and emotionally. A coach can’t ask for anything more than that.”

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