OLD WASHINGTON - A combination of forcing turnovers and dominating the running game was the key to Buckeye Trail’s bounce-back week in a 58-7 rout of visiting Newcomerstown on Friday.
The Warriors forced six fumbles (recovering three) and ran the ball 30 times for a stunning 458 yards to put last week’s 44-13 loss at Ridgewood in the rear-view mirror.
Buckeye Trail head coach Donnie Kerns talked about the adjustments and improvements his team made this week.
“Last week, we played a class program in Ridgewood,” noted Kerns, “but going into this game we didn’t want to sleep on Newcomerstown so the guys played hard the whole game to make sure we secured the win. We did a nice job of minimizing our mistakes and really honed in on the fundamentals.
“We have a lot of athletes on this team,” the BTHS coach continued. “We are fortunate to have a lot of guys who can make those plays, but we still need to work on the fundamentals of every position.”
After forcing the Trojans to punt on their first possession, the Warriors ran one play from scrimmage which resulted in an 80-yard touchdown run by Austin Snodgrass.
Seth Hughes booted in the extra-point and just like that, Trail had a 7-0 lead with 7:42 remaining in the opening quarter.
Five plays later, Newcomerstown coughed the ball up and Buckeye Trail’s Geno CizMadia recovered and ran 52 yards to paydirt.
Another Hughes kick gave the Warriors a 14-0 advantage with 4:52 left on the first quarter clock.
Things went from bad to worse in a hurry for Newcomerstown with yet another fumble, this time on the kickoff to set up Trail at the 42-yard line.
Zach Grafton threw a 21-yard pass to CizMadia to put the Warriors in the “red zone” and Grafton finished off the drive with a seven-yard TD run.
A Grafton-to-CizMadia two-point conversion allowed Trail to carry a comfortable 22-0 lead into the second quarter.
“We can’t dig ourselves holes like that,” admitted Newcomerstown coach Dirk Gadd. “I talked to the team and they know the importance of not turning the ball over, but we are going to have to keep working on holding on to that ball. Give credit to Buckeye Trail...they were aggressive and were going in their and stripping the football. Those turnovers were huge.”
Newcomerstown was able to construct a 10-play, 55-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard TD run by Wyatt Connor early in the second quarter.
Alex Barrington added the point-after and the Trojans had narrowed the deficit to 22-7 with 10:57 left in the first half.
Following the kickoff, Snodgrass was able to break loose on the first play with a 75-yard touchdown rush for the Warriors.
Hughes remained perfect with his third PAT of the night and Trail led 29-7 only two minutes into the second quarter.
BTHS (1-1) scored one more time before the first half came to a conclusion thanks to a 56-yard TD run by Chase Stillion.
Grafton ran the ball in to complete the two-point conversion and it was a commanding 37-7 lead for the hosts at the intermission.
The Warriors tallied three more rushing touchdowns in the second half, including a 22-yard run by Snodgrass (his third of the game); a four-yard run by CizMadia and a 28-yard run by Hughes late in the fourth quarter to provide the 58-7 outcome.
Pacing the Warriors’ ground-and-pound offense was Snodgrass with 220 yards and a trio of touchdowns despite only eight touches while Stillions carried the ball three times for 70 yards and a TD.
“I’m happy with the way the kids played and the way we coached today,” offered Trail’s Kerns. “I want to continue to get our athletes involved. Snodgrass and Stillions both had big nights and we think Grafton is doing a great job at quarterback. There are some things we still need to work on, but we will go to the drawing board and continue to get better.”
The Trojans (0-2) could only muster 168 yards of total offense led by Conner who rushed for 69 yards and a TD on 19 carries while quarterback Gavin Weaver was 4-of-9 through the air for 48 yards.
“The hardest job in football is keeping the kids’ heads up,” stated Newcomerstown’s Gadd. “Everyone puts in so much time and work and we all want to be successful. What they have to understand is that every week we have to get better. We have a young football team right now and our time will come.”
NEXT - Buckeye Trail entertains Barnesville while Newcomerstown will take on Berne Union on the road Friday, with both games starting at 7 p.m.