Chieftains waste another outstanding offensive effort
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHVILLE — Throwing a bunch of points on the scoreboard is all well and good… provided you’re keeping your opponent from doing likewise.
But because they’ve done a lot of the former and a lot more of the latter, the Logan Chieftains have wasted 82 points and find themselves off to an 0-2 start to their football season.
Where do you start after the Chiefs let a double-digit lead with under nine minutes left in the game get away in a 44-40 non-league loss Friday night at Teays Valley?
“Here’s where you start,” began a visibly perturbed Logan coach Billy Burke. “They can run the football and we can’t. That’s the bottom line. You can control the clock and you can dictate what happens in a football game if you can run the football and/or stop the run — and we could not do that.”
Logan (0-2) lost 43-42 in double-overtime last week to Lancaster. This time, after a scoreless first quarter, the Purple & White scored an amazing 40 points in less than 20 minutes of actual game time… and still somehow wound up on the short end.
As the Chiefs were ramping up their offense, Teays Valley (2-0) was kicking its running game into an even-higher gear that the Chiefs simply could not stop.
“The hard part is when you have an idea of what you’re going to get (from the other team’s offense) and then we just don’t make plays out in space,” said Burke.
For the second-straight week, junior quarterback Lane Little (16-of-29 passing for 277 yards) threw four touchdown passes — two to Isaiah Smith and one each to Chance Cox and Casey Phillips — and again tied the school single-game record.
But the Logan defense couldn’t measure up to its offense when the game was on the line in a battle that saw the lead change hands an incredible six times.
While Burke admitted fatigue was somewhat of a factor on a hot, humid night in Ashville, he also noted there are two ways of looking at it.
“I think there was some degrees of guys a little tired, and I don’t think we were physically out of shape,” Burke said. “I thought mentally we just weren’t tough enough to handle the situation.
“Sometimes that comes down to a personal choice,” he continued. “I can yell and scream and put guys in tough situations (in practice) all I want. It’s the guys inside of their skin that have to make the decision to say ‘I am going to get it done at all costs no matter what that is.’
“We don’t just play offense vs. offense… It’s a whole entire team effort, and the same guys who play offense for us also play defense for us.”
Amazingly, neither team threatened in what could be termed a boring opening quarter as the two teams combined for seven punts (four by Teays Valley, three by Logan) before the second stanza even got underway.
But once the second period commenced, so did the scoring fireworks.
Tyler Robinson’s 12-yard run with 6:33 remaining in the quarter put the Vikings ahead as the two teams scored all 84 points in just over two-and-a-half quarters.
Robinson’s TD run was set up on a 70-yard scamper by Jones, who ran over, around and through the Chiefs for 253 yards and three touchdowns… and it came after the Vikings held the Chiefs on downs at the TV 11.
But Logan struck quickly to tie the game. A deep Little-to-Smith 38-yard bomb set the Chiefs up inside the 20 and, three plays later, Smith ran a beautiful left-to-right slant/post pattern and Little hit him in stride with a 14-yard touchdown strike.
Logan scored again just 15 seconds later after Smith’s kickoff fell untouched at the Teays Valley 31-yard line and the Chiefs recovered what basically amounted to an onside kick.
After a 15-yard penalty on the Vikings, Little connected with Cox in the left flat and Cox scored by diving and hitting the pylon to complete a 16-yard scoring play and give Logan a 14-7 lead.
The Vikings drove 70 yards on 16 plays and ran out the first-half clock, with Cory Barnett connecting on a 27-yard field goal as time expired to draw the Vikings within 14-10 at the intermission.
Teays Valley then turned Logan’s only turnover on the night — a bad snap that went over Little’s head, recovered by Robinson at the Logan 39 — into seven points, with Pennington eventually scoring on a 1-yard run.
After forcing a Logan punt, Teays Valley made it 23-14 when Jones took a pitch around right end, made a Logan defender miss with a terrific stutter-step, and went virtually untouched down the sideline to complete a 55-yard scoring play. The Vikings missed the PAT, but were up nine with 6:45 left in the stanza.
A 36-yard kickoff return by Smith, followed by a 15-yard penalty on the Vikings for a late hit, put the Chiefs in business at the TV 38. Little hooked up with Colton Stilwell on a 22-yard pass play to move the Chiefs into the red zone and Bryce McBride went around right end for a 7-yard scoring play to pull Logan within 23-20.
Logan’s defense held on the next series and the Chiefs struck quickly.
Little found Casey Phillips on a middle screen and the senior receiver shed a would-be tackler to find some running room. He shook another tackler while tight-roping the right sideline and went the 76-yard distance to put the Chiefs ahead 27-23 with 3:33 still to play in the third period.
And yet, after being assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play — it was marched off on the ensuing kickoff — Teays Valley took over after a failed Logan onside kick and got that score right back as Preston Gothard took a jet sweep 63 yards around right end to paydirt as the Vikings regained the lead.
And, just as quickly, they lost it again.
Smith had another nice kickoff return — this one for 30 yards — and Dean Jordan added a 13-yard run before Little went deep for Smith once again. Smith out-jumped a defensive back along the Logan sidelines, made the catch, stayed inbounds and went the 41-yard distance to put Logan ahead 33-30 just 62 seconds after the lead had gotten away.
After the Chiefs forced the Vikings to punt on the next series, which stretched into the final period, McBride took the ball on a sweep around right end, found an opening on the edge, and rambled 70 yards for still another Logan touchdown with 9:12 left in the game. Smith’s PAT boot made it 40-30 Logan, and it looked like the Chiefs might be home-free.
Jones and the Vikings had something to say about that.
The Vikings started picking up ground yardage in huge chunks against a tiring Logan defense — 9 by Pennington, 12 by Colton Carroll, 20 by Pennington, and 18 by Jones — before Jones took a direct snap from center and went around right end for a 9-yard scoring run with 6:12 remaining to draw the Vikings within 40-37.
When Logan then went three-and-out and was forced to punt, the Vikings took over at the Logan 49 with 4:37 remaining and quickly picked up a first down to the Logan 36.
Smith tackled Jones for a 6-yard loss and, after Pennington threw an incomplete pass, Brandon Skinner nailed Pennington for no gain and the Vikings faced fourth-and-16 with 2:12 to play.
Pennington — who was briefly hurt on the previous series when Jones scored his 9-yard touchdown — came through with the play of the night, sweeping around right end for 21 yards and a crucial first down to the Logan 21.
Jones went up the middle for 12 yards and Pennington added 3 more to the Logan 6, then Jones took a pitch around right end, made a quick cutback and bulled his way into the end zone for the lead touchdown. Barnett’s PAT kick gave the Vikings a 44-40 edge with 66 seconds to play.
The Vikings then came through with one last defensive stand. Little and Cox hooked up for a 7-yard gain, but three-straight incompletions forced Logan to turn the ball over on downs at its own 42 yard line with 42 seconds left. Pennington then knelt down twice to run out the clock and send the Chiefs home with a second-straight crushing defeat.
In 102-plus years of recorded Logan football history, the Chiefs had never lost a game in which they scored at least 40 points until last week against Lancaster. It took them just seven days to do it again.
The Chieftains now need to regroup, especially defensively.
Hard to believe as it sounds, the Purple & White are going to play a pair of teams who scored 79 points Friday night — yes, 79 points — over the next two weeks.
The Chiefs travel to Meigs, a 79-69 winner over Fairland — you read that score correctly — next Friday then, the following week, make a two-hours-plus trip to Loudonville to face a Redbirds team that blasted Convoy Crestview 79-0 last night.
“Our guys, our coaches and our team have to find a way to get it done better than we’re getting it done right now as a team,” Burke said.