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EL MATON — Van Vleck was happy to take advantage of Tidehaven’s mistakes.

The Tigers turned the ball over seven times in a 49-27 District 14-3A, Division II homecoming loss to Van Vleck on Friday night at Delvin L. Taska Stadium.

“Half of my squad are sophomores,” said Tidehaven coach David Lucio. “They’ve been doing a good job playing older than they are, but tonight we went down the check box of everything you can do wrong in a game. We took some major steps back.”

Lucio knows that with a young team anything can happen the following week.

“Who knows, next week we are liable to look like an NFL team,” Lucio said. “Every play and everything we do is a learning experience. We’re going to learn a lot from this one.”

The turnover parade started early as Tidehaven (4-3, 2-1) fumbled the opening kickoff, which was recovered by Van Vleck (5-3, 3-0) at the Tigers 16 yard line.

Attempting a quick score, Van Vleck then coughed the ball up on the one-yard line.

Tidehaven, backed up against its goal line, watched an errant snap sail out of the end zone for a safety, giving Van Vleck a 2-0 lead to open up the game.

Van Vleck, running behind featured backs Cam Austin and KaDarius Woodard, churned out 279 yards on 46 carries.

While not passing much, the Leopards caught the Tigers defense off guard on their first possession when quarterback Payton Brown hit a wide open Woodard on a 20-yard touchdown play-action pass.

Tidehaven responded on its next drive as Chance Robinson scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 7-yard misdirection play.

He would add his second touchdown, a 6-yard score, late in the second quarter on the very same counter play.

Down 14-8, the Leopards scored with 38 seconds left in the half when Brown once again fooled the Tigers defense, rolling out and hitting Charlie Hill for a 21-yard touchdown, sending his team into halftime up 16-14.

“Our kids did a great job,” said Van Vleck coach Rodney Dowell. “This is a big game for both of these communities. Our style of offense is that we like to ground and pound the ball. We don’t like to throw just because it’s cute. We like to throw for a reason. This is a simple game, it’s a field position and a time control game. We took care of both of those tonight.”

It was all Van Vleck in the second half as the Leopards capitalized on Tiger turnovers to score 27 unanswered points.

Woodard scored twice in a row on runs of 7 and 19 yards, respectively.

Linebacker Ethan Arrington scooped up a Tidehaven fumble and scored from 36 yards out for the third Van Vleck touchdown of the third quarter.

“We knew it was going to be a fight for four quarters and we were going to have to come out and play,” Woodard said. “Nothing but praise for the offensive line. We’re just going to practice hard and get ready for the next game.”

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