A quick start and bend but don’t break approach on defense allowed Amanda-Clearcreek to open Mid-State League Buckeye Division play on Friday with a 20-10 win over host Liberty Union.
The Aces (3-1, 1-0) avenged a 31-7 playoff loss last season in Baltimore and bounced back from last week’s 14-9 setback against St. Charles.
“We know it’s always a battle when we come up here. It’s a Fairfield County game and both communities are very supportive of their teams,” A-C coach Steve Daulton said. “We corrected some things from last week and righted the ship. Our 16 seniors led a good week of practice and we carried that into tonight and our kids made plays when they needed to.”
While the Lions checked the Aces to just 49 yards rushing, Amanda-Clearcreek was able to compensate for that with Nate Hunter completing 15 of 28 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Hunter connected with five difference receivers on the night, led by Cade Young making five receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown, and Grant Guiler pulling down three passes for 49 yards.
The Aces reached the scoreboard first on a two-yard run over the goal line by Hunter Matheny. Johnny Weaver started a busy evening by kicking the first of his two extra points to stake the Aces to a 7-0 lead.
Amanda-Clearcreek doubled its lead later in the quarter when Hunter found Young open on a seam route for a 28-yard touchdown strike.
“We came out and started the first quarter really well,” Daulton said. “Nate did a nice job of making some important checks to get the offensive line going in the right direction and he also did a nice job of distributing the football and using our different threats.
“Against Unioto, Tayvon (Miller) stepped up and had a big game. Tonight, it was Cade Young’s turn. That’s the nice thing about our senior class. They are an unselfish group who want to have success and will do whatever it takes.”
Liberty Union (2-2, 0-1) scored its lone touchdown in the second quarter on a three-yard run by Braden Shreyer that trimmed the Aces’ lead to 14-7.
The two rivals traded field goals in the third quarter with Weaver hitting a 32-yard drive and Liberty Union’s Storm Wolfel connecting from 41 yards out.
Weaver tacked on a 28-yard field goal with 11:23 remaining to give the Aces a 20-10 advantage.
“Johnny is a weapon and he stepped up and hit a couple of big field goals, including one to make it a two possession game,” Daulton said.
Liberty Union held a 280-257 advantage in total yards, but Daulton credited the ability of the Aces’ defense to step up in crucial situations during the second half. That included yielding 6-foor-4 senior Jacob Denney 154 yards receiving on 11 grabs, but keeping the LU standout out of the end zone.
“Denney is a very good receiver who does a nice job of attacking the ball and using his body to shield out the defender,” he said. “We gave up some receptions during the game, but when Liberty Union was trying to go to him down the stretch our kids were able to step up and keep him out of the end zone.
“Overall, I felt our defense played hard, they swarmed to the football and gave us a pretty good effort. We still have some things to clean up, so we’ll work on that next week in practice.”
Jack Brown completed 24 of 36 passes and amassed 229 yards for the Lions.
Daulton was happy to have the services of Matheny, a running back and linebacker, and starting center Darren Byers after missing them over the last two weeks.
“Hunter is a captain and leader for us and Darren obviously is another important player who plays center for us,” he said. “It was nice to get both of them back this week. They practiced well during the week and help set the tone that they and the rest of our kids carried into this game.”
The Aces host defending league champion Bloom-Carroll (4-0, 1-0) next week, while the Lions travel to Teays Valley (4-0, 1-0).
“Our kids work their tails off, so we want them to celebrate starting the league off 1-0 and enjoy the night,” Daulton said. “I know our seniors will lead the way (on Saturday) when we watch film and start getting ready for Bloom-Carroll. It’s a big game, another county game and our Aces Against Cancer game.”
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