Logan Elm scored on its opening drive and its defense kept visiting Circleville out of the end zone as the Braves retained possession of the Backyard Brawl trophy 21-0 Friday night.
With the two schools just seven miles apart, whenever they get together there’s always an extra level of competitiveness in the air and the addition of the Backyard Brawl trophy four seasons ago adds to the atmosphere when the schools meet on the gridiron.
“There is just a little extra with this game. It’s a huge rivalry. It means a lot to our kids, to our school, to our community,” LE coach Terry Holbert said. “We have two clocks in our weight room. One is on the upcoming opponent and we change it weekly and the other one runs year round. There are only about three or four hours where that clock is at zero and we’ll reset it again tomorrow.
“It means something extra, it’s special, it’s a rivalry game, it’s a county game, it’s a league game, you just pile all that on top of it and it was a big win for us.”
The Braves got on the board first when they mounted an 11-play drive to open the game. LE covered 68 yards with senior quarterback Garret Summer going the final yard and Jude Braun converting the PAT.
The Tigers’ first offensive play of the game resulted in a turnover that put the Braves in a position to get a big early lead.
But, three plays later, Circleville’s Parker Kidwell made up for losing the fumble by intercepting Summers near the goal line.
The teams then traded punts for a few series before the Tigers lost another fumble two minutes into the second quarter.
LE put together a 12-play drive that culminated with Summers connecting with Tanner Holbert on a 10-yard scoring pass. Circleville blocked the PAT kick leaving the Braves up 13-0. Which is where the score stood until early in the fourth quarter, when Summers ran the ball in from a yard out and then ran in a two-point conversion to put the score at 21-0.
“It was a hard-fought game all the way around. We knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Holbert said. “I’m so proud of my guys because they fought through so much adversity. We had several key guys go down last week. Some were season-ending and a couple were able to gut it out.
“A case in point – (junior running back) Blayton Reid, he wasn’t himself, he wasn’t moving as well as he typically does. He’s an absolute warrior and he still did a heck of a job for us. A lot of that is attributed to the guys in front of him. I thought we did an excellent job blocking in the run game and protecting.”
Reid finished he night with 161 yards on 25 carries and was key to the Braves moving the ball in the third quarter as the Braves were playing for a while without Summers.
Summers had taken a big hit on defense in the second quarter and missed several series until returning to the game late in the third.
Freshman Aaron Walters stepped in at QB for the Braves during that time.
“We responded to adversity very well. Our quarterback went down and we had to have a freshman step in. We probably played four or five freshmen tonight and those guys did a heck of a job,” Holbert said. “(Summers is) one of our leaders and certainly there was a sigh of relief. But I’ve got a lot of faith and trust in Aaron. He came in and threw a couple good, deep footballs. Aaron has a bright future in front of him, I trusted him completely when he was in there and he executed vey well.
“But it was certainly a relief when Garret came back.”
For the Tigers, they’ll look back on the game and see several costly mistakes.
“They come out and score on the opening drive, we get the ball and give it right back to them right off the bat. Those are the mistakes that we’ve been making,” Circleville coach Steve Evans said. “We get ourselves in a hole, our heads go down and we don’t do a very good job recuperating from that.”
The Tigers did have a chance to score before halftime but a field-goal attempt went wide in the final minute.
Circleville got the ball to start the second half and used seven plays to move inside the 20-yard line. But a holding call on the eighth play moved them back.
“We weren’t able to execute at all in the first half,” Evans said. “We got in a rhythm and got a nice drive to start the second half and we got down here and had a big holding penalty that pushed us back.”
That was followed by an incompletion, a one-yard loss and a sack on fourth down.
“The way we want to run things, we can’t have those penalties. This offense is built to be on second and short, third and short and we can’t put ourselves in a position to have second and long, third and long” Evans said.
It looked like the Tigers had held the Braves to a three-and-out after that opening series, but a running in to the kicker penalty gave LE new life and the Braves converted on fourth down to extend their series.
After winning its first two games, Circleville has dropped its last three and keeping the players focused and moving in the right direction is something Evans and his staff will be working on, but he wasn’t content waiting for next week’s practices to remind his players.
“That’s why I had that timeout at the end of the ballgame. We were losing our temper. We’re behind and it’s a rivalry game, I get it, their crowd is into the game and we lose our cool. We can’t have it,” Evans said. “When it gets to the point that we’re in a tight football game and we’ve got to be able to win a tight football game, we’ve got to have our mindset where it needs to be. That’s what that timeout was about.
“I won’t run a program where guys are acting like that, getting stupid 15-yard penalties because they can’t keep their mouth shut or keep their cool.”
Logan Elm ended the night with 245 yards of offense and 15 first downs. Circleville was held to 88 yards and five first downs.
Circleville (2-3, 0-2) returns home next week to take on Amanda-Clearcreek (3-2, 1-1) which fell 34-7 to Bloom-Carroll (5-0, 2-0) this week. Logan Elm (3-2, 1-1) travels to Fairfield Union (1-4, 0-2) which dropped a 22-7 contest at Hamilton Township (3-0, 2-0) Friday.
Logan Elm 21, Circleville 0
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 0 0 0 0 0
Logan Elm 7 6 0 8 21
LE — Garret Summers 1 run (Jude Braun kick), 7:48.
LE — Tanner Holbert 10 pass from Garret Summers (kick blocked), 5:01.
LE — Garret Summers 1 run (Garret Summers run), 11:20.
First downs 5 15
Rushing yards 24-38 47-193
Passing yards 50 52
Comp.-Att.-Int 4-13-0 5-16-1
Total yards 88 245
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-2
Penalties-Yards 7-51 5-40
Punts-Ave. 5-35 6-31
RUSHING – Circleville — Parker Kidwell 7-42, Angelo Travis 8-9, Scott Moats 8-(-10). Logan Elm — Garret Summers 15-28, Blayton Reid 25-161, Aaron Walters 2-0, Ethan Smith 1-2, Carson Summers 1-5, Michael Bock 3-(-3).
PASSING – Circleville — Scott Moats 4-13-0-50. Logan Elm — Garret Summers 4-13-1-52, Aaron Walters 1-3-0-0.
RECEIVING – Circleville — Parker Kidwell 1-23, Keith Kelly 1-14, Wyatt Thatcher 1-2, Nolan West 1-11. Logan Elm — Carson Summers 1-25, Keegan Diehl 1-8, Josh Young 1-9. Tanner Holbert 1-10.