DRYDEN — Moravia football was on the right side of many lopsided scores this season.
In their most important game of the year, the Blue Devils finally found themselves on the wrong end.
Moravia was taken down by Groton 48-14 on Saturday in Section IV's 8-man championship game at Dryden High School.
Both of the Blue Devils' losses this season came via the Indians, who beat Moravia on its own field back in October in a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. The rematch was much more one-sided.
"Overall, I'm super proud of this team," Moravia coach Fred Ott said. "It's a lot of hard workers. A lot of them play multiple sports so they're constantly busy, but they bought in from Day 1. I think I had 12 kids who didn't miss a day, and in today's world that's big. The kids wanted to be here and wanted to practice hard.
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"Hats off to Groton. Hopefully they do well in the state tournament and represent Section IV."
Groton established itself early with the game's first two touchdowns to take a 12-0 lead.
Moravia answered with the game's next two scores to take a 14-12 lead. The first was an 80-yard kickoff return by Kyler Proper, followed by a 30-yard pass from quarterback Luke Landis to Riley Jones, during which Jones wrestled the ball away from the Groton defensive back in the end zone.
The remainder of the game was a slog for the typically-prolific Moravia offense.
Groton entered halftime with a 26-14 lead, far from insurmountable based on the Blue Devils' previous games. But Moravia opened the third quarter with back-to-back three-and-outs, then turned the ball over on the next possession.
Making matters worse, do-it-all tailback Proper was injured on a hand-off in that third quarter and did not return.
Moravia's gaffes proved too plentiful against Groton, which leaned on its balanced offense to pull away in the second half and clinch the 8-man title.
"I go back to our youth. I've got two sophomores starting on the offensive line and a junior," Ott said. "Their kids were physical, athletic and big, and we just couldn't get the ball rolling. Obviously 14 points is the least we've scored. (Groton) did well against our throws today. That's just the way it happens sometimes."
While Moravia's promising season ends without a Section IV banner, the fall 2022 season was one of major growth for the program.
This was only the Blue Devils' third season as an 8-man program, as well as their second calendar year playing this style. Moravia committed to the 8-man game in the summer of 2020, had its inaugural season pushed back to the spring, and didn't complete its first normal season until last fall.
Ott noted that his team loses only two seniors, and one starter, to graduation. In his eyes, there's no reason the Blue Devils can't return to the section championship game and win it next year.
"Most of what we've seen is the running attacks. I think Moravia, we have more of a balanced attack and that's gonna pay dividends down the road," Ott said. "We can go both ways. Overall, I'm excited about this group of kids. We're gonna miss our seniors, but very excited that we're bringing all these kids back."
Sports reporter Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.