By Brad Morris
Four first-half takeaways and some clutch plays had the Logan Elm Braves thinking upset on Saturday, but host Licking Valley scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 21-14 win.
The No. 15 seeded Braves took the opening kick of a Division IV, Region 15 second-round game and assembled a 60-yard drive.
A 49-yard pass from Conner Robinson to Braylen Baker down the visiting sideline to the Valley one set-up a one-yard keeper over the goal line by Robinson three plays later. The first of two extra points from Gabe Chalfin gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
“We came out, moved the football pretty well and put together a nice opening drive to get some momentum going our way early,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said.
Defending state runner-up and second-seeded Licking Valley drove down to the Logan Elm 30 on its first two possessions, but the Braves held on a fourth-and-four and then Robinson intercepted a Cameron Parmer pass to end the next threat.
Logan Elm notched its second takeaway later in the period on an interception by Cole Westenbarger.
“Our defense stepped up and did an incredible job of stopping Licking Valley there in the first half,” Holbert said. “When they did move the football some, we made a big play to hold them or came up with a big takeaway.
“Ultimately, when you have those change of momentum plays you want to take advantage and score after them, but we didn’t do that enough. That came back to bite us in the end.”
A fumble recovery by Matthew Dyer early in the second quarter set the Braves up on the Valley 39-yard line.
A 34-yard pass from Robinson to Jason Sailor to convert 3rd-and-17 set-up a 13-yard run to pay dirt from Blayton Reid to put the Braves ahead 14-0 with 9:40 left before halftime.
The Panthers drove down to the Logan Elm eight on their next possession, but a third down pass was intercepted by Chalfin in the end zone for a touchback.
Licking Valley threatened again to score at the end of the quarter, but the Braves held on a fourth-and-10 from their 17 to go into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
The Panthers finally reached the scoreboard on the opening play of the fourth quarter on a nine-yard run by Devin McConnell.
Licking Valley tied the score on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Parmer to Bodee Creech with 6:56 remaining.
An interception by Ryan Ellis ended the ensuing Logan Elm possession and gave the Panthers the pigskin on their own 42-yard line.
The Panthers drove down to the Logan Elm three, where they faced fourth-and-two. Licking Valley sent its field goal team out, but Logan Elm was offside on the play.
The Panthers accepted the penalty and, following a timeout, elected to go for a first down that McConnell picked up. Parmer snuck it in on the next play to give Licking Valley its first lead with 1:28 left.
Logan Elm drove down to the Licking Valley 32 on the final possession of the game, but a holding call on a successful first down conversion instead gave the Braves second-and-long. Creech later intercepted a fourth down pass to end the game.
The Panthers dominated the second half, gaining 210 of their 373 yards of total offense.
“Licking Valley made some good adjustments at halftime. They really ate up the clock in the second half and our defense was out on the field a long time,” Holbert said. “We couldn’t get them much of a break.”
Logan Elm had 39 of its 65 yards of total offense in the second half on its last drive and finished with 196 yards.
“We weren’t able to move the football very much outside of that last drive in the second half,” Holbert said. “We had a couple of penalties and breakdowns and we couldn’t afford to do that against the team the caliber of Licking Valley.”
Robinson was 10 of 24 passing for 156 yards. Jason Sailor had four receptions for 58 yards and Baker had two grabs for 56 yards.
Parmer bounced back from the pair of first-half interceptions to finish a sharp 12 of 16 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 64 yards and another score.
Dylan Dodson had 19 carries for 48 yards and McConnell had a touchdown on seven touches for 37 yards for the Panthers.
Logan Elm (4-4), which won its first playoff game since 2009 last week with a 48-0 rout of Lakewood, travels to Amanda-Clearcreek (4-2) next week for a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game.
“This one hurts a lot, because our kids gave a tremendous effort and really laid it out there on the field,” Holbert said. “I’m really proud of the way our kids played and wish we could have found a way to pull out the game.”
Licking Valley (6-1) hosts Licking County League rival Heath (7-1) next week in a regional quarterfinal.
Licking Valley 21, Logan Elm 14
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Logan Elm 7 7 0 0 14
Licking Valley 0 0 0 21 21
LE — Conner Robinson 1 run (Gabe Chalfin kick), 10:30.
LE — Blayton Reid 13 run (Gabe Chalfin kick), 9:40.
LV — Devin McConnell 9 run (Hayden Rodgers kick), 11:54.
LV — Bodee Creech 49 pass from Cameron Parmer (Hayden Rodgers kick), 6:56
LV — Cameron Parmer 1 run (Hayden Rodgers kick), 1:28.
Logan Elm Licking Valley
First downs 10 21
Rushing yards 24-40 56-189
Passing yards 156 184
Comp.-Att.-Int 10-24-2 14-21-3
Total yards 196 373
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 4-35 9-65
Punts-Ave. 7-36.1 1-43
RUSHING – Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 9-30, Cole Westenbarger 3-8, Jason Sailor 1-5, Conner Robinson 11-(-3). Licking Valley — Cameron Parmer 24-64, Dylan Dodson 19-48, Devin McConnell 7-37, Danali Harris 3-35, Ryan Ellis 1-3, Hayden Rodgers 2-2.
PASSING – Logan Elm — Conner Robinson 10-24-2-156. Licking Valley — Cameron Parmer 12-16-2-169, Hayden Rodgers 2-5-1-15.
RECEIVING – Logan Elm — Braylen Baker 2-56, Jason Sailor 4-58, Cole Westenbarger 1-10, Garrett Summers 3-32. Licking Valley — Bodee Creech 4-66, Danali Harris 6-51, Ryan Ellis 2-34, Dylan Dodson 2-33.
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