Whether its is a low-scoring battle or a high-scoring affair, it is always the little things that make the difference when Alma and Van Buren meet.
In Friday’s edition of the Battle for the Bone in Crawford County, the Airedales used three turnovers, a goal-line stand and a solid kicking game to beat the Pointers 35-27 at Blakemore Field.
"Our kids stepped up and made the plays that we had to have to win," first-year Airedales coach Doug Loughridge said. "We made big plays on offense when we had to, we got a turnover when we had to and we made a defensive stop when we had to."
Alma converted two turnovers into touchdowns and had a stopped Van Buren on fourth-and-1 at the Airedale 2.
"There was a lot of things we did wrong that we can go back and correct this week in practice," Pointers coach Brooks Coatney said. "Our kids are playing hard and we expect that, but we now need to eliminate mistakes like turnovers. There were some mistakes in the game that really cost us."
Van Buren trailed 21-7 early in the third, but had a chance to tie it late in the quarter. After Brad Eversole snuck in from the 1 with 52 seconds left in the third, the Pointers trailed 21-20. But the extra-point kick was wide right and that was as close as Van Buren got the rest of the way.
The Airedales put the game away in the fourth with two touchdowns, the last on an Alex Burris 27-yard interception return with 5:33 left, to open up a 35-20 advantage.
In his starting debut, Alma quarterback Evan Burris was 15-of-18 pass for 200 yards with three scores while adding 90 yards rushing with 21 carries and a score.
"I thought he managed the game well," Loughridge said. "I thought our offense kept them off balance. We had a lot of guys with a big effort on offense."
After the Pointers had climbed to 21-20 late in the third quarter, Burris led a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 17-yard pass to Reyn Beckham with 10:19 left for a 28-20 lead.
After Alex Burris’ interception return, Van Buren continued to scrap and got another score with four minutes left on Eversole’s 11-yard pass to Michael Cureton which left Van Buren trailing 27-20.
Alma, despite a fair catch on the kickoff at its own 5, marched to the Van Buren 11 to run out the clock.
Eversole, who played wide receiver for the Pointers for two years before being moved to quarterback this season, finished the game 22-of-36 passing for 295 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
"In a situation where we are asking him to do a lot for us, it says a lot about the ability to make some of the plays he did tonight," Coatney added. "He is a special player and I think he can be one of the best in the area. The kids rallied around him tonight."