A record-setting night for Logan's 'dynamic duo'
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Lane Little, Isaiah Smith set marks for TD passes and TD receptions in Chiefs' contentious 48-13 SEOAL victory at Gallipolis
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor email@example.com
GALLIPOLIS — If you can look at Gallia Academy’s Memorial Field as a stage, and Friday night’s football game as a Broadway play, the Logan Chieftains’ understudies had their moments in the spotlight… but it was the show’s stars who shined the brightest.
The ‘dynamic duo’ of quarterback Lane Little and Isaiah Smith teamed up on three touchdown passes — and rewrote the LHS record books — as the Purple & White scored the game’s final 35 points to defeat the host Blue Devils 48-13 in a contentious Southeastern Ohio Athletic League contest.
Little tied his own school record with five touchdown passes, giving him a total of 27 for the season to break Patrick Angle’s mark of 26 set in 2009.
Smith, who has been on the receiving end of 15 of those TD aerials, broke the record of 13 shared by D.J. Conrad (1985) and Mason Mays (2008).
And as the Chiefs bid adieu to Memorial Field — with Gallia Academy leaving the SEOAL at the end of the current school year, it was likely Logan’s final football game in Gallipolis at least for the near future, probably much longer — juniors Jeremy Minor and T.J. Meyer scored their first career varsity touchdowns and sophomore Brady Walsh busted a punt return 58 yards for six points.
The Chieftains (7-2 overall, 1-1 SEOAL) broke a two-game losing streak and kept their slim hopes at a Division II post-season berth alive, although by evening’s end they had unofficially slipped into ninth place in Region 5, one spot out of a playoff position.
But in one sense, it was a costly win for three Chieftains, who were ejected from the game (along with a couple Blue Devils) as the result of an altercation on the near sidelines at the end of a kickoff return after Logan had taken a 35-13 lead a little more than midway through the second quarter.
The officials ejected two Chiefs who were not even involved in the play. They ran across the field toward the fracas but did not get involved.
“For the most part I think we played a pretty clean game, barring the misunderstanding that happened there,” Burke said. “That is super-unfortunate, because nobody had any bad intentions. The officials didn’t understand that (and) their interpretation is different than our reality was.
“We have to move on,” he added. “It’s my assumption we’re going to have to play without them” in next week’s regular-season finale against visiting Warren.
Burke was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty by the officials while standing up for players he insisted were being wronged.
“The hard part is that (senior) Brandon Skinner, a guy who puts his heart and soul into this (team), takes a lot of pride in it, and is a kid who has gotten better throughout the year, can’t play the last game of his senior year at home,” Burke said.
“That’s most of my frustration. That misunderstanding resulted in him getting ejected and he doesn’t get the opportunity to do it the way everybody usually gets to do it on Senior Night.”
Skinner and juniors Kory Henthorne and Kyle Spelock will have to miss next week’s Warren game as per ejection rules set forth by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
That unfortunate incident aside, the Chiefs took a couple blows (no pun intended) from the Blue Devils (1-8, 1-1) in the opening quarter as Gallipolis twice countered Logan touchdowns with scores of their own. The game was tied 13-13 with 32 seconds remaining in the opening period.
“I think their size and depth wore us down,” said Gallia Academy coach Josh Riffe. “We liked the beginning; we traded punches (touchdowns) back and forth, and that was fun, but their size just wore us down. The kids did a good job and the coaches did a good job getting prepared.
“Hats off to Logan,” he added. “They have a great team and some great players.”
Minor capped off a major 10-play, 65-yard drive on the game’s opening series with an 11-yard touchdown run, only to see Gallia Academy quarterback Kole Carter hook up with fellow senior Devin Henry on a 59-yard scoring pass six plays into the ensuing series.
Gallipolis then forced Logan to punt, but Meyer’s kick hit the heel of a Blue Devil player and the Purple & White recovered at the GAHS 29.
On the very next play, Little went deep down the middle for Smith, who made one of his signature leaping end-zone catches against double-coverage for a 13-7 Logan edge with 2:32 left in the opening stanza.
“You better triple him,” Burke said afterward, “and I don’t know if even that will work.”
Aided by a costly facemask penalty against the Chiefs and a 27-yard pass play from Carter to Matt Bailey, the Blue Devils quickly marched back downfield and went 56 yards on five plays to draw even.
From the Logan 19-yard line, Carter was forced to scramble while Colton Campbell found an open spot in the back of the end zone and made himself available. Carter whipped the ball to him for a game-tying touchdown with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We had a breakdown in coverage,” said Burke. “We’ve played a lot of different guys all year long so it’s been tough to establish some rhythm and continuity, and they exploited that. But as we settled in, we began to make plays and we held them scoreless after the first quarter.”
Both teams missed extra-point kicks on their second touchdowns.
A crazy quarter got even crazier, however, when Logan’s Jenson Wallace returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards up the middle to the Gallia Academy 37.
After a Logan holding penalty moved the ball backward, Little found with Smith with a hitch pass on the left side. Smith broke the play for six, finding a seam in the GAHS defense and rambling down the sideline to complete a 48-yard scoring play with 10 seconds still remaining in the period. Wallace then caught a 2-point conversion pass from Little to make it 21-13.
Then, after forcing a three-and-out from the Gallipolis offense, the Chiefs got one of those big plays Burke spoke about.
Walsh took a punt at the Logan 42, bolted up the middle and cut down the right sideline for a 58-yard TD return and a 28-13
Logan lead after Stu Harper booted the PAT with 11:40 to play in the half.
It amounted to 15 points in just 30 seconds for the Chieftains, and they weren’t through.
After again forcing the Devils to punt, the Purple & White went 58 yards on just five plays, with Little hitting Meyer over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 4:59 remaining in the half.
Things then got contentious on the ensuing kickoff when Henry was hit on the Gallipolis sideline following a 10-yard return. There was a scuffle, with Gallipolis players surrounding the action, and some Chiefs ran across the field but never mixed it up.
After a lengthy delay, the stripes ejected the three Chiefs and two Blue Devils and walked off 30 yards’ worth of penalties against the Chiefs — a 15-yard personal foul penalty and the 15-yarder against Burke — but the Blue Devils fumbled the ball away two plays later, and the score would remain 35-13 at the intermission.
The Chiefs surprised the Blue Devils by recovering an onside kick to start the second half — one of Logan’s wedge formation kickoffs — and turned that play into points just four plays later when Little connected with Smith in the right flat and
Smith went 29 yards to paydirt down the right sideline.
Leading by 28 points, the Chiefs went for two on the conversion — to force a 30-point, running-clock situation if successful, like Columbus DeSales did against the Purple & White last week — but a pass went incomplete.
The Chiefs eventually did get that running clock, however, after Little threw his fifth TD pass — the one that broke Angle’s record — to Colton Stilwell, an 8-yarder with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
“We had guys who stepped up tonight,” Burke praised. “Corey Wilson (a team-high 73 yards rushing) had some nice runs, Jeremy Minor (64) had some nice runs. Colton Stilwell has been nursing a little bit of a hamstring but he fought through it.
“When Lane’s clean (17-of-31 passing for 259 yards and just one interception), and he’s protected well, he’s a kid who can throw the ball and make plays like he did tonight,” he added.
Friday marked the final home game for 14 Blue Devils seniors, who took their traditional Senior Walk — like the one the Chiefs’ seniors will do next week — across Memorial Field after the game.
“We have a lot of seniors, but a lot of those guys haven’t had much playing time until this year,” Riffe said. “This is difficult for them. 1-8 is not what they expected. I think that is the hardest part.”
The Blue Devils can still tie league-leading Jackson for the SEOAL championship by winning their season finale next week in the Apple City. If they can pull off such an upset, the Chiefs can then make it a three-way title tie by beating Warren.