Triton had the perfect start and nearly had the perfect finish but it was Cleveland (4-3, 1-0) who held on for a 42-40 win to start off Two Rivers 3A Conference football play in style.
Triton (4-3, 0-1) took a 13-0 lead within the first two minutes of the contest but found itself down 42-27 late in the fourth quarter.
However, De’marius Stanton’s short touchdown burst cut the lead to 42-34 with one minute remaining in the game. The Hawks recovered the ensuing onside kick and Ethan Cruse found Stanton for a 46-yard touchdown pass one play later to draw to within two points.
A delay of game on the two-point conversion pushed the Hawks back five yards and Cleveland’s Tevin Sanders flushed Cruse out of the pocket and sacked him before he could look downfield to effectively end the game as the Rams recovered the next onside kick.
“Since we came into existence as a school, we’ve always been with Triton in a conference and either us or Triton’s won the conference,” said Cleveland coach Scott Riley. “They’re kind of back on top now, they’ve got a lot of great talent and we’re just fortunate to get the win.”
Caiden Norman was 5-of-6 for 60 yards on the Rams’ key scoring drive at the end of the first half that gave them the 21-20 halftime lead.
Norman used the short passing game to maneuver the ball down the field before finding Jake Mason in the end zone from six yards out with just 14 seconds before half.
The drive took just 55 seconds and Norman’s only incompletion of the drive was a spike of the ball to stop the clock and set up the scoring play.
THEY SAID IT
“We came out fired up; we felt like this year we could really push them for a championship, something we haven’t done the last couple years,” Triton coach Ben Penny said. “A team as well-coached as they are, a lead of 13-0 nothing in the first couple minutes is nothing for them.
“I’m proud of our guys at the end showing that heart and fight in trying to get back to win the football game…hopefully that will carry over next week.”
THREE TO KNOW
Jake Mason, Cleveland: Mason pulled down seven catches for 99 yards, including three touchdown receptions of six, 11 and 33 yards. Mason’s third touchdown reception on the first play of the fourth quarter gave Cleveland the 42-27 lead.
Byron Massey, Triton: It didn’t take long for all in attendance to see the big-play capability of the senior playmaker. Massey took the opening kickoff back 82 yards to give the Hawks the lead just 13 seconds into the contest. Massey also raced to the end zone on a 79-yard run in the second quarter to give Triton the 20-14 lead.
Caiden Norman, Cleveland: The senior quarterback threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns and distributed the ball nicely to six different Cleveland receivers.
BY THE NUMBERS
191: Yards passing for Triton’s Ethan Cruse.
150: Yards receiving on nine catches for the Rams’ Jacob Scott.
100: Yards rushing for Triton’s Da’john Williams.
114: Rushing yards for Cleveland’s Tyson Dew who found pay dirt twice.
10: Consecutive completions for Caiden Norman stretching from the second quarter to the fourth quarter.