By Brad Morris
AMANDA — Nate Hunter was all too aware of the situation facing Amanda-Clearcreek on Friday in the third quarter.
The Aces appeared to be in control with a 14-0 lead, but a blocked 49-yard field goal attempt that visiting Hamilton Township returned to the A-C seven gave the Rangers some much needed life. TJ Black then ran around right end for a seven-yard score to slice the Aces’ lead in half.
“We’ve been in this position before where we give up a score and it’s a one score game,” Hunter said. “There have been times where we’ve responded well and a couple of times where we didn’t respond the way we needed to.
“This time, we handled the adversity the way we needed to and we got momentum going our way again.”
The Aces limited the Rangers to 61 yards of total offense the rest of the way and tacked on 10 insurance points in the fourth quarter to claim a 24-7 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win.
Amanda-Clearcreek (5-2, 3-1) remains a game behind league co-leaders Bloom-Carroll (7-0, 4-0) and Teays Valley (7-0, 4-0) as it will begin preparing today for a trip next week to Ashville to tangle with the Vikings.
Hunter had perhaps his best game of the season under center, completing 16 of 24 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown and added 75 yards rushing and another score. The A-C senior connected with five difference receivers on a pleasant early fall evening, led by Tayvon Miller grabbing five passes for 78 yards and a score, Grant Guiler making three receptions for 62 yards and Brady Sharp hauling in three passes for 58 yards.
“I’m really comfortable with our receivers, because I’ve been throwing with them since way back in the second grade,” Hunter said. “We have a lot of athletic ability out there and I just work on getting them the football and letting them make plays.”
After the Hamilton Township (3-2, 2-2) touchdown, the Aces tried to respond by driving down to the Rangers’ 25, but eventually turned the ball over on downs.
The Rangers tried to build on that momentum by penetrating inside the Aces’ 28-yard line, but also turned the ball over on downs.
Amanda-Clearcreek started buying insurance midway through the fourth quarter when Hunter scrambled to his left and found Miller, who turned on his jets and went down the visiting sideline for a 45-yard touchdown reception to put the Aces ahead 21-7, following the third extra point of the night by Jonny Weaver.
“When I see Nate scrambling around like he was there, we go to our scramble drill,” Miller said. “I found a spot to catch the football and then (Hamilton Township) had no one behind me once I broke clear.”
The Aces recovered a fumble on the ensuing Hamilton Township drive, setting up shop 22 yards away from the end zone. Weaver connected on a 32-yard field goal to make it 24-7 with 3:35 remaining.
Miller then put a cap on the night by intercepting a pass and allowing the Aces to run out the clock on a homecoming win.
After allowing the Rangers 174 yards of total offense in the first half, the Aces yielded only 68 yards in the final two quarters of play. That started by limiting the running of quarterback TJ Black, who had 102 yards in the first half but just 17 in the second.
“We did a better job defensively of not allowing Black to get outside and forced him inside to where our guys up front could tackle him,” Miller said. “He’s a nice athlete and that was a big key to the second half.”
The Aces took their opening possession of the night and used 11 plays to cover 63 yards. Hunter had six carries for 34 yards on the drive, covering the final six on a run up the middle into the end zone.
Amanda-Clearcreek doubled its lead to 14-0 in the second quarter on a seven-play, 57-yard drive. Hunter connected with a trio of receivers during the possession and Guiler capped the drive with a one-yard run out of a power formation on fourth-and-goal.
The win allowed the Aces to square their record in The Pit to 2-2 this season and also allowed them to avenge a 14-3 loss to conclude last season against the Rangers.
Amanda-Clearcreek moved up to sixth in the Division V, Region 19 ratings, according to joeeitel.com. The top 16 teams make the playoffs following the decision by the Ohio High School Athletic Association earlier this year to expand the playoff field, with the top eight seeds hosting a first-round game.
“We’ve been working on building some momentum over the last couple of weeks after (losing 34-7 to Bloom-Carroll in Week 5),” Hunter said. “It’s nice to win our homecoming game and also get Hamilton Township back for how we ended the season last year.”
Hamilton Township 7
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Hamilton Township 0 0 7 0 7
Amanda-Clearcreek 7 7 0 10 24
AC — Nate Hunter 6 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 1:06.
AC — Grant Guiler 1 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 1:39.
HT — TJ Black 7 run (kick good), 7:45
AC — Tayvon Miller 45 pass from Nate Hunter (Jonny Weaver kick), 6:15.
AC — Jonny Weaver 32 field goal, 3:35.
First downs 10 17
Rushing yards 33-184 32-128
Passing yards 58 240
Comp.-Att.-Int 4-14-1 16-24-0
Total yards 242 368
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-55 5-47
RUSHING – Hamilton Township — TJ Black 14-119, Nadir Langston 2-1, Phurious Owens 2-12 Aamen Whitson 6-32, JJ Wilson 2-4, Taliq Black 2-(-3), Jordan Bowen 6-19, Seth Conrad 1-4. Amanda-Clearcreek — Nate Hunter 17-75, Hunter Matheny 8-40, Grant Guiler 7-13.
PASSING – Hamilton Township — TJ Black 4-14-1-58. Amanda-Clearcreek — Nate Hunter 16-24-0-240.
RECEIVING – Hamilton Township — Trent Renz 1-9, Brandon Mathias 1-22, Nadir Langston 1-14, Max Petry 1-13. Amanda-Clearcreek — Cade Young 2-21, Tayvon Miller 5-78, Brady Sharp 3-58, Peyton Cassley 3-21, Grant Guiler 3-62.
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