There is just something magical about seeing the skyline lit up above a high school in the fall and once again that scene would be seen in Litchfield.
On Saturday night, Aug. 28, the lights would illuminate Lloyd Hill field once again as varsity football was back at Litchfield High School. Even though the guest Gillespie Miners would walk away with a 63-20 victory in a three-hour affair, the scene, the atmosphere and the effort by the Purple Panthers left a lasting impression.
Gillespie would begin the contest with great field possession as they would take a short opening kickoff to the Purple Panthers’ 23-yard line.
Nineteen seconds into the contest Gillespie would run their first play from scrimmage, resulting in a 23-yard touchdown run by running back Joe Baglin. The quick touchdown would give Gillespie a 7-0 lead as Ryder Koniak would add the extra point with 11:19 left to play in the first quarter.
After a quick first series for the Purple Panthers, Tate Dobrinich would pin the Miners inside their 10-yard line with a 54-yard punt. The punt would become a huge play for the Purple Panthers as they would put points on the scoreboard for the first time in 674 days.
Gillespie’s offense would fumble the football on their second play from scrimmage.
The loose ball would bounce into the endzone where Owen Baugher pounced on it, giving Litchfield their first varsity touchdown since October 25, 2019.
The extra point attempt would be unsuccessful, but Baugher’s touchdown would narrow the Gillespie lead to 7-6 with 9:39 left to play in the opening quarter.
Again, Gillespie would obtain great field possession off the ensuing kickoff. Just over two minutes after Litchfield’s touchdown, Gillespie’s Jesse Berry would get his first touchdown of the 2021 campaign as he scampered 10 yards to paydirt, giving Gillespie a 14-6 lead 4:38 into the contest.
The Miners would add one more touchdown before the first quarter would expire. Gillespie’s quarterback Zach Reiniesch would find Chase Helvey for a 54-yard strike; Reiniesch would add the two-point conversion giving Gillespie a 22-6 lead.
In the first half it would be a tale of two when it came to time possession as Gillespie would use little clock to put points on the board while the Purple Panthers ate up as much time as they could while on offense.
Litchfield’s first offensive scoring drive would last 7:35, starting in the first quarter and continuing into the second quarter. The impressive scoring drive would keep the Purple Panther fans on the edge of their seat with an exciting run to the endzone.
The long drive would result in a Drew Hartzell one-yard touchdown run, making the score 22-12 with 8:06 left to play in the half.
As Litchfield would use the clock during their series, Gillespie would only use 59 seconds during their following three-play series. The short series would result in another Zach Reiniesch touchdown, this time on the ground, as Gillespie would increase their lead to 28-12.
Again, Litchfield would follow with a time chewing drive as the Purple Panters put together another impressive drive that would last 4:18. Unfortunately for the Purple Panthers the end result of the drive would be a fumble as Litchfield gave up the football on the Miners’ 12-yard line.
Gillespie would respond with another three-play drive that would end with another Miners’ touchdown. Jesse Berry would add his second touchdown of the half with a 67-yard touchdown run and Reiniesch would add a two-point conversion to give Gillespie a 36-12 advantage.
The score would remain the same as Litchfield would run out the clock to end the first half.
Trailing by 24 at the half, the Purple Panthers would be in a familiar place but it would have a different feeling. Litchfield’s offense would be clicking and entering unfamiliar territories throughout the first half. A different result than the late fumble could have resulted in a one touchdown differential rather than the three-touchdown gap.
In the opening drive of the second half, the Purple Panthers would retire the ball on downs to the Miners. Gillespie’s opening drive would once again result in Miner points, as Gillespie put their sixth touchdown on the board in seven attempts.
Zach Reiniesch would connect on his second passing touchdown as he would find a wide-open Ronnie Monke for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown would increase Gillespie’s lead to 43-12 with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
After a quick Litchfield drive that resulted in a punt, the Miners would put more points on the board. Reiniesch would again hit paydirt for his fourth touchdown of the contest, and his second rushing touchdown as he dashed for 30 yards to give the Miners a 49-12 lead.
Litchfield would get their first points on the board in the half on their next series. Tate Dobrinich, who put together a solid game behind center in his first varsity game, would connect on his first varsity touchdown as he found Carson Saathoff in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.
Dobrinich would connect on the two-point conversion when he found Keenan Powell as Litchfield would now trail 49-20 with 5:35 left to play in the third quarter.
Gillespie would put more points on the board after one of the Miners’ longest drives of the contest. The nearly two-and-a-half-minute drive would result in a 13-yard touchdown run by Joe Baglin, his second of the contest. The touchdown would give the Miners a 56-20 lead with 2:45 left to play in the quarter.
Before turning the ball over to their junior varsity, the Miners varsity would score on eight of their nine droves. A late 4th quarter fumble by Litchfield would result in a 50-yard touchdown as Bryce Hohnsbehn scooped up the loose ball and raced for the end zone, giving Gillespie a 63-20 lead. The score would remain the same as the final siren would end the contest.
Even though the result would not be in favor of the Purple Panthers a lot of positives would be seen by the Litchfield offense.
These would not be sympathy positives as Litchfield’s offense would surpass 200 yards of total offense. Tate Dobrinich would complete over 50 percent of his passes and connect on 164 passing yards. Keenan Powell would be Dobrinich’s primary target throughout the contest as he received six passes for 72 yards. Jake Cunningham would lead the Purple Panthers on the ground as he carried the ball six times for 21 yards.
On the defense side of the ball, Martivious Jones would lead Litchfield in tackles as he collected 11 solo tackles and two assists. Harrison Thomas would also help on the defense side of the ball with three solo tackles and three assists.
Litchfield did control the clock throughout the contest as they held onto the football for 25:59.
Litchfield will look to pick up their first win when they travel to Staunton for a week two match-up with the Bulldogs.
August 28 at Litchfield
Gillespie (1-0) 22 14 20 7 63
Litchfield (0-1) 6 6 8 0 20
1st - 11:41 - (G) - Joe Baglin 23-yard TD run (Ryder Koniak kick)
1st - 9:39 - (L) - Owen Baugher fumble recovery (extra point failed)
1st - 7:22 - (G) - Jesse Berry 10-yard TD run (Ryder Koniak kick)
1st - 3:41 - (G) - Chase Helvey 54-yard TD reception from Zach Reiniesch (Zach Reiniesch 2pt conversion)
2nd - 8:06 - (L) - Drew Hartzell 1-yard TD run (extra point failed)
2nd - 7:05 - (G) - Zach Reiniesch 4-yard TD run (extra point failed)
2nd - 1:31 - (G) - Jake Cunningham 67-yard TD run (Zach Reiniesch 2pt conversion)
3rd - 8:47 - (G) - Ronnie Monke 28-yard TD reception from Zach Reiniesch (Ryder Koniak kick)
3rd - 6:01 - (G) - Zach Reiniesch 30-yard TD run (extra point failed)
3rd - 5:35 - (L) - Carson Saathoff 14-yard TD reception from Tate Dobrinich (Keenan Powell 2pt conversion reception)
3rd - 2:45 - (G) - Joe Baglin 13-yard TD run (Ryder Koniak kick)
4th - 1:30 - (G) - Bryce Hohnsbehn 50-yard TD fumble recovery (Ryder Koniak kick)
Litchfield Total Offense: 38 plays, 208 yards.
Passing (18-33-164-1): Tate Dobirnich 18-33-164, 1 TD.
Rushing (20-44): Jake Cunningham 6-21, Drew Hartzell 11-21, Martivious Jones 2-4, Tate Dobrinich 1-(-2).
Receivng (18-164): Keenan Powell 6-72, Carson Saathoff 4-43, Martivious Jones 4-39, Emiliano McGill 1-5, Drew Hartzell 1-4, Jake Cunnigham 2-1.
Tackles: Martivious Jones 11 solos, 2 assists; Harrison Thomas 3 solos, 3 assists; Hunter Hancock 3 solos, 1 assists; Keenan Powell 2 solos, 2 assists; Owen Baugher 2 solos; Carson Saathoff 2 solos, 1 assists; Louis Vollentine 2 assists; Tate Dobrincih 1 solo; Drew Hartzell 1 solo 1 assist; Easton Grammer 1 solo; Mannix Hancock 1 assist; Nick Hawley 1 assist; Mitchell Floyd 1 solo 1 assist.
Gillespie Total Offense: 38 plays, 500 yards.
Passing (2-2-83): Zach Reiniesch 2-2-83.
Rushing (36-417): Jesse Berry 4-143, Joe Baglin 7-81, Zach Reiniesch 7-66, Erik Kravanya 9-50, Chase Helvey 3-50, Danny Bertolino 4-27, Tristen Wargo 2-0
Receiving (2-83): Chase Helvey 1-55, Ronnie Monke 1-28