Despite fumbling the ball away not once, not twice, but three times in the game’s first nine minutes, the Gales still rushed for 518 yards — the most ground yards ever gained by a Logan Chieftain football foe — and scored a whopping 57 unanswered points en route to shellacking the Chiefs 57-7 at Fulton Field.
The one-sidedness of the season-opening series again reared its head as the bigger, stronger Gales dominated both sides of the ball… at least when they weren’t giving it away.
“We had fumble problems last year, but it was mostly getting through the line of scrimmage and handoffs. Our fumbles today were at the end of runs,” said Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter. “Logan was well-coached defensively, they were punching and stripping the ball, and we hadn’t really practiced (against) that.”
The second of two Lancaster fumbles in less than a minute gave the Chiefs first-and-goal on the Lancaster 10-yard line just three minutes into the game while fans were still streaming into Fulton Field and all but filling the bleachers on the Logan side of the field.
Two plays later, on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, the Chiefs inserted senior Nick Kost into the game to run a Tim Tebow-like play… and he ran it to perfection, making a jump pass over the line of scrimmage into the end zone to 6-foot-8 tight end Kevin Fisher for a touchdown with 6:42 left in the opening stanza. Charles Bowlby’s extra-point kick made it 7-0.
Then, with less than four minutes left in the quarter, Kost ripped the ball away from Lancaster running back Jared Thompson at the Logan 34-yard line and returned the ball to the Lancaster 45.
On the very next play from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Lane Little hooked up with senior Evan DeLong on a bomb down the middle. DeLong made the catch, burning sophomore defensive back Drew Smith and almost breaking the play to the end zone, but Smith recovered, chased DeLong down and stripped him of the ball at the Gale 2-yard line, where Lancaster recovered.
Moments later, junior running back Jerry King broke an 87-yard touchdown run — tearing through no less than six tackles behind or near the line of scrimmage — and senior running back Isaiah Dexter added a 2-point conversion run as the Gales took the lead for good with two minutes left in the opening period.
“Wow, that was a big play,” said Carpenter of Smith’s defensive play. “If (DeLong) scores and (Logan goes up) 14-0, you never know.”
But what everyone would come to know was that, while the Chiefs were game and played with heart and discipline, they just weren’t big enough. They eventually wore down and had some players leave the game due to injury.
The biggest injury might have been in the third quarter, when Little was tackled after scrambling for a nice gain that was called back on a penalty. He lay on the ground for awhile before being helped off the field, and it’s feared he may have a collarbone or shoulder injury that could sideline him for several weeks.
New Logan coach Billy Burke, a Lancaster graduate and former Gales grid star, admitted the Fairfield Countians were just way too big and way too strong for his team to handle.
“Like I told the kids after the game, we’re not going to be judged on the fact that we lost this game,” Burke said. “We’re going to be judged on the fact that the game didn’t go our way, and it was a tough night. We’re going to be judged, and we should be judging ourselves, on how do we react from here forward.
“Offensively some of our game plan worked for us,” he added. “Defensively, we have to get a better look on film to figure out how those things worked out. We had a plan in place (and) we don’t know if it was a bad plan or a good plan… we have to figure out if we executed or not, and make things better next week.”
It was a game plan that was, ultimately, at the mercy of a huge Lancaster team led by Ohio State-bound lineman Kyle Trout, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound giant, that tore holes in the Logan defensive line and quickly plugged just about any hole the Logan O-line created.
While it’s easy to say after winning by 50 points, Carpenter nonetheless was sincere in his praise of the Chieftains.
“Bill Burke is doing a good job there. We scored more points this year, but I think this is a better (Logan) team,” Carpenter said. “They’re more disciplined, and they all know what they’re doing. It’s going to be awhile; things don’t change overnight. They picked the right guy (to coach the Chiefs).
“I hope (Logan) people weren’t leaving and cussing while going home in the car, because things are going to turn around (for Logan),” he added. “It just takes a little bit of time.”
Lancaster made it 16-7 when Dexter broke through to block a Bowlby punt and recovered in the end zone with 8:40 left in the second period and Thompson scored a 2-point conversion on a broken play in which he ran about 30 yards to get the necessary three.
Not long after that, Thompson (16 yards) and Dexter (22 yards) scored on running plays to power the Gales to a 30-7 halftime lead.
Thompson, who had 100 yards rushing on the night, added a 17-yard scoring run and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Butsko in the third quarter.
“We wore them down,” Carpenter said. “We have some beef up front, and we have eight, nine, 10 guys who want to run the ball and run it hard, run it hungry. That’s the strength of our team, and it’s why we run the wing-T.
“We always have a good corps of backs,” he added, “but this may be the best group overall that I’ve seen here in 20 years at Lancaster. They block for each other and they aren’t selfish.”
A total of 14 different Lancaster players carried the ball, with 13 of them gaining at least 11 yards, as the Gales piled up rushing numbers the likes of which had never been allowed by a Logan defense.
Lancaster’s 571 total yards are the second-most all-time allowed by the Chiefs — second only to 582 by Middleport in 1953 — and the Gales’ 518 ground yards bested the 495 gained by Gallipolis, also in 1953.
“Logan will be in good shape,” Carpenter said. “I like their coaching staff and I like the things they were doing and their kids were doing. Last year they were a little out of synch, and there was a lot of talk (on the field). There was no talking tonight. They played hard and that goes right back to the coaching staff.”
While the Chiefs aren’t going back to square one, Burke stressed this will be an important week as the Purple & White prepare to open a stretch of five home games in six weeks by hosting Teays Valley next Friday night in Logan Chieftain Stadium. The Vikings gained over 550 yards in defeating Westfall 52-22 in their season opener on Friday.
“This is football, and I don’t know if anybody who has ever played this game has gotten away without getting their butts kicked,” Burke said. “We got our butts kicked tonight… now it goes back to seeing how we react to it.”