A packed house at Tinora High School’s Justin F Coressel Stadium would see the 2022 THS homecoming court introduced, as well as the ever coveted victory bell up for grabs.
In the 47th edition of the River Bowl, the Pilots and Rams met for a chance to display and ring the bell for the next 365 days.
The series dates back to 1976, with the Pilots holding a 24-21-1 advantage. The Pilots last victory in the series came at Tinora back in 2016. Tinora has won 14 of the last 15 contests heading into tonight’s showdown.
After an uneventful first quarter saw the Pilots and Rams fail to score, the second quarter would more than make up for the lack of fireworks.
The second quarter would see Tinora starting QB Gavin Eckert injured on a punt return to start the quarter, Eckert would not return. Dominic Graziani would enter for the Rams at QB.
The first score of the game would come courtesy of a Tinora Jacob Bishop 37-yard field goal, the Rams would lean 3-3 with 6:44 remaining in the half.
Ayersville would answer as they drove down the field, on a nine play drive that took just over four minutes, Pilot QB Blake Hauenstein hit a wide open Abe Delano for a 40 yard touchdown. The Pilots two point conversion was successful by Hauensterin was good,, Ayersville led Tinora 8-3 with 2:16 to go in the half.
In a haste to get down the field prior to the half, the Rams would end up turning the ball over to the Pilots as Ray Wolfrum would intercept a Graziani pass at the Tinora 48-yard line at the 1:03 mark in the second quarter.
Hauensteing would again drive the Pilots downfield, this time hitting a wide open Tyson Schlacter for a 17 yard TD. Hauenstein would again covert the two point try, giving Tinora a 16-3 lead.
With 45 seconds remaining in the half, Tinora again would try to get back on the scoreboard. After an Edwards run would cross the midfield stripe, Graziani would hit Edwards deep over the middle, Tinora would have a first and goal from the Pilots seven-yard line with 21 seconds in the half. Tinora would have to settle for another Bishop field goal, this time from 21 yards out, Tinora cut the Pilot lead to 18-6 as teams headed to the locker room.
The second half would be a repeat of the first quarter, both teams trading punches, with the only score coming at the start of the fourth quarter.
With the scoreboard still showing Ayersville 18, Tinora 6, Tinora’s Joey Guisinger picked off a Hauenstein pass at the Tinora 31-yard line.
The Rams Dominic Graziani, under pressure all night long, tried to hit Brandon Edwards on the sideline, instead he found his counterpart, Blake Hauenstein. Hauenstein took the Graziani pass back 33 yards for an Ayersville touchdown, giving the Pilots a 22-6 lead.
Tinora threatened to score a few times in the final quarter, however the Pilots defense would stop the Tinora attack each time on fourth down.
Ayersville would celebrate their first victory since 2016, ringing the victory bell all the way back to the locker room, and on the bus headed back to Ayersville.
With the loss, Tinora falls to 3-3, 2-2 in the GMC. The Rams will travel to Paulding to play the Panthers next Friday night.
Ayersville improves to 6-1, 4-0 in the GMC. The Pilots will host the Antwerp Archers in a huge GMC contest next Friday.
Congratulations to Tinora seniors Eli Plassman and Logan McQuillin who were selected King & Queen for 2022 Homecoming.
Listen back to the River Bowl:
GMC scores and standings below: