By Brad Morris
When Logan Elm has gained momentum in its games this season, the Braves have demonstrated that they are a difficult team to stop.
Such was the case on Saturday when the Braves scored on six-straight possessions en route to a 48-0 drubbing of visiting Lakewood in a Division IV, Region 15 first-round game.
“Our guys were ready to go from the start,” said Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert, who was doused with a bucket full of water in the closing moments of his first playoff win at the helm of the program. “We were physical, our defense created some opportunities and we took advantage.”
The Braves were making their first playoff appearance since 2014 and earned their first postseason victory since 2009 and fourth overall in program history. Normally the top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs, but with the shortened six-game regular-season due to COVID-19, the Ohio High School Athletic Association gave every member school the ability to opt in or out of the postseason.
“Experiencing something like this is why we put all the hard work in during the offseason, two-a-days and everyday in practice,” Logan Elm senior quarterback Conner Robinson said. “Our offense was clicking and our defense played one of its best games of the season.”
Robinson was 10 of 17 passing for 214 yards with five touchdowns and added 46 yards rushing. The Logan Elm senior quarterback connected with five different receivers on a pleasant autumn evening, with Jason Sailor making four receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown and Gabe Chalfin making three grabs for 53 yards and a score.
Blayton Reid accounted for 78 yards rushing on 12 carries and scored a touchdown.
“We have quick athletes all over the field and it’s my job to get everyone involved and make us a hard team to defend,” Robinson said. “It was nice to be pretty balanced offensively, establishing the run and also hitting some big passes.”
The defense set the tone in the Braves’ return to the postseason with Cole Westenbarger recovering a fumble on Lakewood’s opening series on the Lancer 35-yard line.
Facing third-and-11, Robinson hit Sailor down the seam on a 36-yard touchdown pass. Chalfin kicked the first of his five extra points to give the Braves a 7-0 lead.
David Evans recovered the ensuing short kickoff to give the Braves control of the pigskin again on the Lakewood 44-yard line.
A 19-yard run by Robinson on fourth-and-one kept the drive going and Reid scored two plays later on a nine-yard run around left end.
The Logan Elm defense produced its second takeaway of the opening quarter when Hayden Heeb recovered a Lakewood fumble on the Lancer 45.
Robinson cashed in the opportunity when he found Westenbarger on a 23-yard touchdown toss to make it 21-0.
Logan Elm (4-3) scored four more touchdowns in the second quarter to cement its first playoff win in 11 years.
Robinson put the Braves ahead 28-0 when he hit Evans on a crossing route for an eight-yard score. The defense then put a touchdown on the scoreboard when Ethan Smith intercepted a Ryan Ogilbee pass and returned it 72 yards to pay dirt.
Chalfin made a beautiful diving catch for a 42-yard gain on the next Logan Elm possession and then caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Robinson two plays later. The Caleb Eplin extra point made it 42-0 with 4:43 remaining before halftime.
Lakewood (2-5) requested a continuous clock for the remainder of the game following the Chalfin score. Normally, the continuous clock doesn’t start until the second half when a team leads by at least 30 points, according to OHSAA rules.
The Braves capped scoring when Robinson hit Braylen Baker on a short slant that the sophomore took in from 49 yards out.
“Conner did a nice job of spreading the football around and getting all of our playmakers involved,” Holbert said. “We had tremendous balance, which shows when we had seven different guys score a touchdown.
“I also felt like our offensive line did a nice job of giving Conner time to work and opening up holes for our running game.”
Lakewood had 134 of its 178 yards of total offense in the second half after the outcome had clearly been decided.
“We had a great week of practice leading into the game and our coaches came up with a great game plan that our guys executed,” Holbert said. “Our guys played hard, were physical and fundamentally sound.”
It’s been a bizarre year for the Braves as it has for every other football team in Ohio. Offseason workouts were halted in March when schools were shutdown for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19. Conditioning resumed over the summer, but the summer and preseason were both different than normal. Governor Mike DeWine then finally gave the go-ahead for football to proceed with a season in mid-August.
And, despite an 0-2 start to the season, the Braves have won four of their last five games.
“I love our guys and I’m super happy for the success that they’re having this season,” Holbert said. “We were having a good offseason until COVID-19 hit back in March, but our seniors continued to lead through that and we had productive virtual workouts to continue making progress.
“Our seniors have done a tremendous job of leading through the summer and into the fall with perseverance and toughness. They’ve built a brotherhood and the success we’re having is a testament again to their leadership.”
The Braves face a tall task next week when they travel to defending state runner-up Licking Valley (5-1), which is seeded second in the region.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and getting back to work,” Holbert said. “Licking Valley is a well-coached team and has a great program. It’ll be an exciting environment for our guys to play in.”
Logan Elm 48, Lakewood 0
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Lakewood 0 0 0 0 0
Logan Elm 21 27 0 0 48
LE — Jason Sailor 36 pass from Conner Robinson (Gabe Chalfin kick), 8:49.
LE — Blayton Reid 9 run (Gabe Chalfin kick), 6:23.
LE — Cole Westenbarger 23 pass from Conner Robinson (Gabe Chalfin kick), 4:13.
LE — David Evans 8 pass from Conner Robinson (Gabe Chalfin kick), 11:18.
LE — Ethan Smith 72 interception return (Gabe Chalfin kick), 7:15.
LE — Gabe Chalfin 6 pass from Conner Robinson (Caleb Eplin kick), 4:47.
LE — Braylen Baker 49 pass from Conner Robinson (kick failed), 0:50.
Lakewood Logan Elm
First downs 8 16
Rushing yards 25-108 31-141
Passing yards 70 214
Comp.-Att.-Int 12-20-1 10-18-0
Total yards 178 355
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-40 3-40
RUSHING – Lakewood — Ryan Ogilbee 10-33, Robby Taylor 5-31, Brandon Allen 3-7, Isaiah Mitchell 3-7, Josh Hicks 2-27, Adam Crawford 2-2. Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 12-78, Conner Robinson 6-46, Matthew Dyer 3-24, Jason Sailor 1-0, Gabe Chalfin 1-(-2), Garrett Summers 1-1, Cameron Smith 2-1, Lance Haupt 1-(-20).
PASSING – Lakewood — Ryan Ogilbee 3-14-1-11, Adam Crawford 3-3-0-59. Logan Elm — Conner Robinson 10-17-0-214, Garrett Summers 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – Lakewood — Brandon Allen 1-0, Zeb Manster 3-16, Matt Smith 2-26, Lucas Gotschall 1-28. Logan Elm — Jason Sailor 4-81, Braylen Baker 1-49, Gabe Chalfin 3-53, Cole Westenbarger 1-23, David Evans 1-8.
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