Chieftains dominate in 40-7 rout of Buckeyes
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
LOGAN — In more ways than one, the Logan Chieftains made quick work of the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes Friday night.
The Purple & White overwhelmed N-Y with 27 first-quarter points, broke two scoring plays of more than 80 yards, returned two interceptions for touchdowns and rolled up a stunning 40-0 halftime lead en route to a 40-7 non-league victory in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over after the Chiefs (2-3) scored on their first three possessions and got a Casey Phillips 46-yard pick-six to cap off that 27-point first quarter.
“They were 3-1 coming in, and it being a rivalry game, but the bottom line is we were pretty happy with what we did,” said Logan coach Billy Burke. “You prepare for other teams, but sometimes a lot of the focus has to be on you and how well you do.”
For the third-straight week, the Chiefs were involved in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s new running-clock rule.
Because the Chiefs led by 30 points at halftime — and because the Buckeyes never cut the deficit under that margin — the clock ran continuously in the second half. The game kicked off at 7 p.m. and was over shortly before 9. The second half took around a half-hour to complete.
Nelsonville-York (3-2) didn’t have a defensive answer for the Chiefs. Logan scored every time it touched the ball in the first half with the exception of missing a 27-yard field goal in the final minute when it was already a 40-0 score.
And Logan scoring every time it touched the ball was almost literally true. Phillips and Chance Cox both had pick-six touchdowns as Logan intercepted N-Y quarterback Hunter Edwards three times.
Logan amassed 379 total yards, with 365 of them in the first half. Although quarterback Lane Little only attempted eight passes, two of his four completions went for touchdowns of 87 and 24 yards to fellow junior receiver Isaiah Smith, who had three receptions for 120 yards.
And with running backs Bryce McBride (134 rushing yards on just eight carries) and Dean Jordan (81 yards on 11) both running the ball well and scoring a touchdown apiece, the Logan offense again showed some diversity.
The Chiefs had a big game in both aspects two weeks ago in a 55-7 running-clock rout of N-Y’s Tri-Valley Conference rival Meigs, and did move the ball well despite a running-clock 43-13 loss last Friday at Loudonville that completed a three-game swing of road contests.
“Offensively, that’s where we are right now with our scheme,” Burke said. “We got another week under our belt with this same scheme and executed pretty well tonight.
“We know if we can run the ball really well we don’t have to use a quarterback who can throw it really well and receivers who catch it and make big plays in the throwing game,” he added. “Just like any good football team, if you have a good running game, good things happen off that. If you play good aggressive defense, good things happen off that.
“Hopefully maybe we found a formula here and we can stay with it. It’s just a matter of every week something different is going to happen to you out there (and) you continue to fight through it and make plays.”
The Chiefs certainly made plays Friday night. Big plays. Way too many of them for the Buckeyes to stop.
“Anytime you come out and you turn the ball over and you don’t play defense very well against a football team like Logan, you’re going to pay the price,” N-Y coach Dave Boston Jr. stated. “Tonight we paid the price for it.
“We moved the ball all night long at times,” he added, but “we certainly still have to get better. Again, we’re still making mistakes. We’re turning the ball over, fumbles, interceptions, we have to do a better job controlling the football.”
N-Y played without its leading rusher, sophomore Alex Mount, who missed the game due to an injury he sustained last week against River Valley. Fellow sophomore Noah Andrews ran for 88 yards, but they weren’t nearly enough.
“We’re playing much-more aggressive defense,” Burke praised. “When you play that aggressive up front, you can get after a quarterback and make it tough on the opponents’ running game. You’re going to get some opportunities to get some picks, which we got tonight.
“It’s sort of like all the stuff we’ve been working on is coming together like we want it to come together,” he added.
The Chiefs’ first three plays set the tone for what would turn out to be a much-needed victory.
McBride took the first carry of the game 15 yards, Little followed by connecting with Cox on a 21-yard pass play, and Cox took a sweep 11 yards. Four plays later, Jordan went off tackle for three yards and a touchdown a little more than two minutes into the game.
N-Y did get a big play on its opening drive — Edwards scrambled for a 35-yard gain to the Logan 12-yard line — but the Logan defense stiffened and the Buckeyes turned the ball over downs at the Logan 18.
McBride then proceeded to bust an 82-yard scoring run that was called back due to a penalty — one of the few mistakes the Chiefs made in this game — but the Purple & White soon more than made up for it.
On second-and-long, Little went deep down the right sidelines and hit Smith, who had several steps on the nearest N-Y defensive back, in stride. Smith bobbled the ball momentarily but secured it and went the distance to complete an 87-yard scoring play.
Since Logan had missed the extra-point kick on its first touchdown, the Chiefs went for two and got them on a run by Jordan to make it 14-0 with 4:57 still to play in the opening stanza.
Logan made it 20-0 when, after forcing the Buckeyes to punt, McBride found a huge hole up the middle and went 81 yards — nearly untouched — to the N-Y end zone. This one counted, and the rout was on.
It got even worse moments later. McBride tipped a pass that Phillips picked off at the N-Y 46-yard line and brought back for still another touchdown and a 27-0 Logan advantage with 1:01 still to play in the opening period.
The onslaught wasn’t over. After forcing the Buckeyes to punt early in the second stanza, the Purple & White went 65 yards in seven plays, capping it off with 6:54 to play in the period when the 6-foot-4 Smith out-leaped a smaller N-Y defender — who was actually in pretty good position — in the back right corner of the end zone to haul in a 24-yard scoring pass from Little.
That made it 33-0. It would be 40-nil less than two minutes later.
Edwards connected on passes to Brycen Nungester, Andrews and Dakota Mays for a first down at the Logan 37, but his next throw was behind his intended receiver and Cox made a twisting interception at the LHS 30. Cox crossed the Buckeye goal line 70 yards later, and what was expected in most quarters to be a competitive game was basically over.
N-Y did avoid getting shut out, however, when Edwards scored on a 19-yard keeper around right end with 1:46 remaining in the game.
Other than one carry by McBride on the first play of the second half, the Chiefs’ primary offensive players were on the sidelines as the reserves got as much Friday night lights time as the running clock would permit.
While the running-clock rule is no doubt a double-edged sword, no team would trade being on the 30-plus end of it for the alternative.
Burke was okay with it Friday night, especially after the last nine-plus minutes of a 30-point loss at Loudonville expired rather quickly the previous week.
“We’d like to have a little bit more of an opportunity to get some (other) guys into the game, but we’re not a super-deep team,” Burke reasoned. “If we were a lot deeper with a lot more kids waiting in line to play, then it’s not such a great thing. When you’re on the other end, and you’re facing an opponent who’s got it going, that running clock’s good (though) it’s not always good for the young men who worked all week and want to play on Friday night as well.
“So what we’re saying is we’d like to be up by 29,” he said with a grin, “and allow yourselves to play other people.”
While it was nice for the Chiefs to enjoy a rare home game — it was their first appearance in Logan Chieftain Stadium since losing their season opener to Lancaster in double-overtime — they certainly didn’t have time to get used to it.
The second half of the season begins next week, and with it the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League portion of the schedule.
The Chiefs hit the road again for the next two weeks, beginning next Friday at Portsmouth (1-4) before they make a huge SEOAL trek to Jackson’s Alumni Stadium to face the undefeated (5-0) Ironmen, who shut out previously-unbeaten and state-ranked Division V Wheelersburg 27-0 last night.
“If you execute and minimize your mistakes, and if you execute better than what they do, you put yourselves in great opportunities to be on the winning side,” Burke said. “It was about execution tonight. We knew what to do, we were in the right spots (and) we blocked the right guys. We get good results when we know exactly what we need to do.”