Chieftains break through in big way for first victory
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCK SPRINGS, Ohio — Tommy Hayden probably spoke for all of his teammates after the Logan Chieftains took their early-season frustrations out on the Meigs Marauders Friday night.
“We knew that they had a good offense,” the junior offensive/defensive lineman said. “Their last game was high-scoring. Our goal was to shut them out… which we almost did. We took it more as a challenge.”
Consider that challenge met.
The Chieftains (1-2 on the season) wasted 82 points and let two potential victories get away in a 43-42 double-overtime loss to Lancaster and a 44-40 setback at Teays Valley to open the season.
Nothing went to waste Friday night as the Chiefs defeated a Meigs (1-2) team that had set several school records in a ridiculous 79-69 win over Fairland last week.
“I told the kids that it’s nice when you work on things during the week and you’re able to execute them on Friday night,” said Logan coach Billy Burke. “We were able to do that. I think we found our rhythm a little bit defensively and offensively. Now we’ll try to keep that rolling.”
The Chiefs had been — and still will be — primarily a passing team the first two weeks of the season. Friday night, quarterback Lane Little threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns to run his season total to 10.
But you need a running game to balance it, and the Chiefs came through with flying colors.
Junior running back Bryce McBride ran for 227 yards on just 14 carries and scored three touchdowns and Dean Jordan added 109 yards and a TD on only eight carries as Logan ran for 455 yards behind an inspired offensive line.
“I’ve felt that we’re more than capable up front to run the football,” Burke said. “Maybe I haven’t done a good enough job finding the right scheme to block with the guys we got. We did some things a little differently this evening, and maybe that’s something we can continue to do the rest of the season.”
The Chiefs registered 591 yards of total offense — a number that might had been much larger (and maybe threatened the school record) had most of the second half not been played with a running clock, a new rule instituted by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for games with at least a 30-point differential in the second half.
“We have to give that offensive line a good deal of credit,” Burke praised. “We haven’t been able to run and the pressure was on them that we needed to run the ball. We executed up front.
“Now if you ask me tomorrow (after watching game films), I might say something different,” Burke said with a wry grin, “but we obviously did some things right to come out with the game we had.”
And the solution wasn’t exactly rocket science.
“The goal when you’re blocking for somebody is if you’re blocking the right guy as the ball’s passing by, the guy’s blocked,” Burke pointed out. “We’re not asking you to block for 10 seconds: we’re asking you to block for that split second as the ball’s heading upfield — therefore a defender’s trying to defeat a block and make a tackle at the same time, and that’s almost impossible to do.”
Logan led 34-7 at halftime and, once McBride broke a 74-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the third quarter, the clock ran continuously except on scoring plays, time-outs and possession changes.
Hayden spoke of the Chiefs’ desire to shut out a Meigs team that rolled up 733 yards of total offense last week. With the exception of the Marauders’ lone touchdown — a 68-yard broken-field run by quarterback Isaiah English in the waning seconds of the opening period — the Chieftain defense did just that.
Meigs managed just 147 yards of total offense — 79 if you take away English’s TD run — and the Logan D held senior running back/wildcat quarterback Michael Davis in check.
Davis, who rushed for 353 yards and accounted for nine touchdowns against Fairland (six rushing, two via reception and one TD pass) was held to 25 yards rushing and two pass receptions for 34 yards.
It also didn’t help the Marauders that English exited the game with 7:32 left in the second period after being sacked by Logan’s Zach Buckley. English didn’t return, nor did a couple other teammates who were injured in the first half.
Logan held a 20-7 lead at the time English left the game and, after that, the Meigs offense didn’t have a chance with Davis the lone focal point still remaining. The Marauders were already missing their first-string QB, sophomore Cody Bartrum, who was knocked out of the season-opening loss against Coal Grove.
And the Logan defense took full advantage.
“We played good,” said Hayden, noting that two schemes in particular worked very well in shutting down the Meigs passing game and its running game, finding “their targets, reading which way they were going and getting a pass rush.”
The Chiefs felt all along the Meigs defense would not be able to stop them unless they stopped themselves, and they were absolutely correct. They committed just one turnover and the Marauders never forced them to punt.
After the Chiefs fumbled the ball away on the Meigs 44-yard line on their opening series, they scored on six-straight possessions, spilling over into the second half, before being stopped on fourth-and-goal from the Meigs 1-yard line late in the third quarter when the game was already well in hand.
A 55-yard run by McBride set up the Chiefs’ first score, with McBride doing the honors on a 7-yard run with 3:34 to play in the opening period.
Logan got the ball right back on a Chance Cox interception, and three plays later Little went deep and found a wide-open Isaiah Smith in the back corner of the end zone to complete a 24-yard scoring play with 1:21 left in the opening period.
On the ensuing series, English scrambled on third-and-9 from the Meigs 32-yard line and found an opening, cut back to the middle, and went down the right sideline for 68 yards and a score with 1.5 seconds left in the period.
It was the only big play the Chiefs allowed all night… and one of the few times the Logan defense didn’t tackle well.
But the Chiefs bounced right back. McBride broke a 20-yard run on the first play of the next series and added an 18-yard run a little later.
Then, with the ball on the Meigs 31, Little found tight end D.J. Madison open down the middle and the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior took the ball down the right sideline, shrugged off a couple would-be tacklers and went the distance for his first varsity touchdown and a 20-7 Logan lead.
After Buckley’s sack of English ended a Marauder drive and the Meigs quarterback’s night — he was seen on the sidelines on crutches in the second half — Jordan took a handoff off left tackle, barreled over a potential tackler, and outraced the Meigs defense down the Logan sideline 79 yards to paydirt to make it 27-7 Chiefs.
The Chiefs then forced a Meigs punt and drove 91 yards on eight plays in the final minutes of the half for still another score.
Cox (11 yards) and McBride (24) broke off big runs before Little connected with Cox on a 32-yard pass play to get to the Meigs 20. Moments later, on fourth-and-4, Little connected with Cox in the left flat for 11 yards and a first down, and on the ensuing play McBride scored on a 3-yard run.
McBride’s 74-yard jaunt — moments after Little had a 64-yard TD run off a scramble called back due to a penalty — officially turned the game into a rout.
Lineman Josh Rardain recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown and Corey Wilson broke a 54-yard scoring run during the running-clock fourth quarter.
Burke could sense his Chiefs were in a much-better state of mind well before the opening kickoff.
“You might be able to chalk up last week to being an emotional letdown from the week before and maybe it was harder to gear up,” Burke said. “We acted differently tonight than we did a week ago at this time” at Teays Valley.
“Whether we were concerned about other things last week I don’t really know,” he added, “but we acted very differently during pre-game than we did a week ago and it translated onto the field.”
The Chieftains complete a three-game early-season swing of road games next Friday with a long trip to Ashland County, where they will face a 3-0 Loudonville team that has shut out its last two opponents by a combined score of 110-0.
“Loudonville isn’t Meigs,” Hayden said. “We know we have to buckle down and get focused.”
Another challenge awaits.