By Jim Haynes
Times-Reporter sports writer
BYESVILLE There will be a Week 13.
The Indian Valley Braves defeated the Philo Electrics 7-3 in a defensive Division IV regional high school football semifinal in front of a boisterous, standing-room-only crowd at Eugene Capers Field on Friday night.
The Braves (10-2) now will face Steubenville Big Red, which upended Maysville 22-20, on Friday night at a site to be determined.
“Our defense played lights-out tonight,” Braves head coach Matt Lancaster said. “We held an exceptional offensive team to three points. What more can you say about that?”
“I’m pretty emotional right now; this is such a huge win for our program and the community,” added Lancaster. “We can't wait to play Week 13.”
VIDEO: Indian Valley-Philo Report
Brady Byers, who had an outstanding game on both sides of the ball, was quick to give the defense credit.
“Those boys fought out there tonight, they (Philo) were pretty big and hard to push around, but they kept us in the game and we came through with that touchdown and made it stand up,” said Byers. “We have worked so hard this year and we don’t want to see it end. We have another week to look forward too and that’s all you can ask.”
If you love defense, then this was a game for you.
Both teams played physical, hard-hitting football the entire game.
The Electrics (9-3) would put together a nice drive on their second possession of the game, driving the ball inside the Braves 5-yard line, but the Braves defense rose to the occasion as they forced Philo into kicking a 26-yard field goal making the score 3-0.
The usually potent Braves offense could not get untracked in the first half as the Electrics physical defense held Jake Davis and company in check.
Despite the score only being 3-0, momentum seemed to be on the side of Philo as they would begin another solid drive early in the second quarter. Reaching the Braves 32-yard line, Philo quarterback Zak Sheridan threw a pass deep toward the end zone, however Byers stepped in front of the pass and intercepted the ball, thwarting the drive and giving Indian Valley some momentum.
The Braves would then put together a drive of their own, marching down field to the Electrics 30-yard line. On first and ten from the 30, Byers launched a pass toward the end zone into the waiting arms of Ross Love. With two defenders surrounding him, Love made what appeared to be an amazing catch for a touchdown, only to be ruled incomplete by the officials.
The drive would end there, and after a 51-yard field goal attempt by Philo was blocked by Logan Ryan, and the teams headed to the locker room with score 3-0 Philo.
Whatever Lancaster told the team at halftime, it worked.
The Braves received the ball to start the second half, and after a penalty on the kickoff moved the ball back to the 11-yard line, the offense came to life.
Using a 12-play, 89-yard drive, that took nearly six minutes off the third quarter clock, Davis bulled in from a yard out, giving Indian Valley a 7-3 lead. The big play of the drive came on a fake punt, as Byers found Caden McGuire on a 26-yard pass that breathed life into the Braves.
After the Braves defense held the Electrics again, Indian Valley began to mount another drive of their own.
Using a 17-play drive, the Braves were threatening to score again and cushion their lead. However, Ryan had a critical fumble at the Philo 20-yard line which the Electrics recovered.
Philo would then take the ball down field into Braves territory with about three minutes to play.
The Braves defense, playing inspired all game long, came up with a huge fourth down stop to give the Braves the ball back.
The Electrics used their time outs and forced Indian Valley to punt again with less than a minute remaining, but the Electrics fumbled on the punt and Indian Valley recovered, giving the Braves the win.
Ryan had 122 yards rushing on 15 carries and Byers added 86 yards on 15 attempts, while Davis chipped in 65 yards on 12 carries.