Stallions dominant in dealing Chiefs their second-consecutive defeat, 44-7
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By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor email@example.com
COLUMBUS — You can drill and scheme and practice for hours, but there are times when you just can’t come close to simulating what a football opponent is capable of doing.
Such was the case in northern Columbus Friday night as the St. Francis DeSales Stallions flexed their collective muscle and beat down the Logan Chieftains 44-7 to earn their seventh-consecutive victory.
The Stallions (7-1) — whose lone loss was a season-opening defeat at the hands of Lancaster (6-2, which has lost its last two games in a combined five overtimes) — and their 235-pound bowling ball of a running back, junior Alonzo Booth, set the tone early.
After the Stallions held the Chiefs on Logan’s first offensive series, Booth took a pitch around left end on DeSales’ first offensive play from scrimmage and went down the left sideline for a 69-yard touchdown run.
“I thought we were in the right (defensive) spots in the first half,” Logan coach Billy Burke said afterward, “but it was an eye-opener and a wake-up call that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re in the right spot if the other guy is blocking you and kicking your rear end.
“And that’s a hard thing to simulate,” he added. “You think of all the ways you can get your team ready — but ultimately nothing can get your team ready unless you actually see what you’re going to see.”
The Chiefs certainly got an up-close-and-personal look at the Stallions, who — with the exception of one Logan play — were dominant.
The Stallions’ Jake Gilmore scored on a 2-yard run with 11:25 left in the first half, and Austin Andrews broke a 38-yard TD jaunt exactly 10 minutes later — in between, DeSales punter/kicker Dominic DiMaccio averted disaster when he managed to track down a punt snap that sailed over his head and get away a 28-yard kick — to give the home team what appeared to be a 29-0 halftime lead.
But Little and his speedy senior teammate, wideout Isaiah Smith, kept the Purple & White (6-2) from being shut out.
Facing third-and-8 from the Logan 22-yard line, Little was forced to scramble — as he had to do on several occasions Friday night — and finally let loose with a desperation bomb that found Smith open deep down the right side.
Smith made the reception then, twisting, spinning and fighting, somehow staved off three Stallion tacklers and took the ball to the house to complete a 78-yard touchdown play with only 21.5 seconds remaining in the half.
That — and Stu Harper’s successful extra-point kick — was all the scoring offense Logan would manage on this night.
Playing without senior running back Bryce McBride — the knee injury he sustained against Jackson last week might keep him out the rest of the regular season — Logan was only able to manage 30 rushing yards on 18 carries against a highly-touted (and for good reason) DeSales defense.
Little completed 14-of-28 passes for 156 yards, with that late bomb to Smith accounting for 42 percent of Logan’s total offensive yards the entire evening.
Smith, who caught a pass for a 24th-consecutive game — tying the school record — had eight receptions for 121 yards, but with the exception of that play the DeSales defense kept him in front of them.
Logan managed just six first downs — all in the first half — and when DeSales scored with 4:32 left in the third period and
successfully added a 2-point conversion, the Stallions had a 30-point lead.
The remainder of the game was quickly played with a running clock due to the 30-point-differential rule that was put into place prior to the 2014 season. The Chiefs were involved in five such games last fall; this was their first of the current season.
Logan ran just 11 offensive plays in the second half. The highlight was a 67-yard punt by junior T.J. Meyer, just two yards short of the school record.
“We learned a little bit about ourselves tonight and what it takes to play hard and compete,” Burke said. “I told them I was pretty proud of how we played in the second half. We didn’t score in the second half, but we came out and competed physically like we didn’t in the first half.
“I thought our offensive line did a great job in pass protection and I thought we did a good job defending their option game,” he added. “I don’t know if we couldn’t physically (defend the Stallions) as much as maybe we weren’t prepared for the level of physicality that we were going to face.”
Booth finished with 171 rushing yards on just nine carries — despite having to exit the game twice due to leg issues — and when he went out, it was Andrews, who is headed to Michigan State, who replaced him. Andrews had missed the previous three games with a knee injury.
DeSales, true to its football roots, ran the ball on 44 plays (for 334 yards) and only threw once. QB Dylan Todd completed a 12-yard pass late in the opening quarter.
Logan thus dropped back-to-back games — visiting Jackson (7-1) beat the Purple & White 35-21 last week — after having won its first six games of the season and eight-straight contests dating back to the end of the ‘14 season.
A win Friday night would have all but locked up a Division II playoff berth; now the Chiefs will have to win out — Southeastern Ohio Athletic League games against 1-7 Gallipolis and 0-8 Warren — and get a lot of help to sneak in with a No. 7 or No. 8 Region 5 seed.
“Hopefully it’s lesson learned tonight,” Burke said. “We have a couple games left and maybe more than that if the football gods smile on us.
“Lots of teams have two losses by this point. It just hurts that they are back-to-back,” he continued. “We’ve played two pretty good teams (who have) two losses between them. We have to finish out the year the right way… the kids have played a lot of football and they owe it to each other.”
The Chiefs now indeed need to regroup, hopefully put together a couple season-ending wins, and see if those football gods will reserve a post-season spot for them.
“That will come down to leadership… how do we want to finish?” Burke said. “And, ultimately, how you finish is how you are remembered.”