By Brad Morris
AMANDA — Hunter Matheny remembered the feeling last week when he walked off a muddy grass field in The Pit after a 20-0 loss to the rival Fairfield Union Falcons.
“I felt like we blew our senior night and we blew having another opportunity to play here in The Pit,” he said. “I was just heart-broken.”
So when Matheny learned last Saturday that Amanda-Clearcreek would get another opportunity to suit up in their all black home uniforms and against another opponent carrying the Falcons nickname, he felt like the Aces had been blessed with a do-over.
“I guess we had the (Level 2) points break our way and that gave us the opportunity to play here again,” he said. “We were all relieved that we had a do-over, but then we knew we had to focus hard this week in practice and come out and get after it against Minford. We wanted to be aggressive, physical and set the tone.”
And the Aces indeed set the tone on Saturday by forcing three first-half takeaways and compiling 204 yards of total offense that allowed them to take a 24-0 lead into halftime and cruise to an eventual 31-6 win over the visiting Falcons in a Division V, Region 19 first-round game.
The seventh-seeded Aces (7-4) advanced to a regional quarterfinal at second-seeded and Mid-State League Ohio Division champion Harvest Prep (7-2), which whacked Northwest 54-7 last night.
After being checked to just 12 yards rushing last week, the Aces ran for 149 yards and four touchdowns against this flock of Falcons.
Quarterback Nate Hunter rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns and Matheny used 11 totes to cover 54 yards and also scored twice.
“We’ve relied a lot on our passing game this season, but with the elements and everything we knew that we needed to get back to old-school Amanda-Clearcreek football and be able to run the football,” Hunter said. “Our offensive line did a nice job of setting up some delayed draws for me to use and also opened up holes for our running backs.”
The Aces used their defense to set up a short field when Grant Guiler recovered a Minford fumble on the second play of the game on the Falcons’ 41-yard line.
“We saw last week how an early turnover (A-C fumbled and lost the opening kickoff) can change the momentum of a game early and this week it worked in our favor,” A-C coach Steve Daulton said. “Our defense flew around, they hit hard and they were able to come away with some turnovers that our offense took advantage of.”
An eight-yard pass in the flat from Hunter to Brady Sharp allowed the Aces to convert a fourth-and-six. Matheny then plunged over the goal line three plays later from a yard out to put the Aces ahead 7-0, following the first of four extra points from Jonny Weaver.
Amanda-Clearcreek scored on its next two possessions to push its advantage to 21-0.
The Aces put together a 14-play, 69-yard drive that included a 27-yard fade pass from Hunter to Guiler. Matheny scored three plays later from two yards out of a power formation to make it 14-0.
Hunter highlighted the next drive for the Aces by rushing for 40 yards, including a tough 11-yard run where he muscled his way past a defender and then carried another defender inside the two-yard line and over the goal line.
“Nate wanted that touchdown and that’s how our guys played all night long,” Daulton said. “They wanted this game.”
The No. 10 Falcons tried to respond by driving down to the A-C 28-yard line, but Matheny sacked quarterback Devin Parker for an 11-yard loss and Tayvon Miller came away with an interception on the following play.
“We didn’t play well last week as a defense and we took that as a challenge and our coaches also challenged us,” Matheny said. “We have 11 seniors on defense and we wanted to really get after them and impose our will.”
Guiler came away with the third takeaway of the first half with an interception that set the Aces up on the Minford 49 with 26 seconds left.
Passes of 14 yards to Peyton Cassley and 13 yards to Miller set up a 39-yard field goal off the kicking foot of Weaver that sent the Aces into halftime with a 24-0 lead.
The Aces opened the second half with an eight-play, 74-yard drive that Hunter put the exclamation point on with a two-yard touchdown run to trigger the running clock with 8:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Amanda-Clearcreek came up with their fourth takeaway in the final quarter on an interception by Cassley.
Minford (6-4) was able to avoid the shutout when Parker connected with Trenton Zimmerman on a 15-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
Hunter completed 11 of 23 passes for 166 yards, with Sharp catching five passes for 74 yards.
“Our passing game started out a little slow, so it was nice to have the run early and then we got things going passing-wise about midway through the second quarter,” Hunter said. “I know my job is to get the football to our guys in space and let them use their athleticism.”
Jeffrey Pica led the Falcons with 94 yards rushing on 10 carries. Parker was 13 of 26 passing for 131 yards, with Zimmerman hauling in seven receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
After the final whistle sounded, the Aces ran to the north end of The Pit to ring the victory bell and celebrate the program’s 36th playoff win.
“That was a great feeling,” Hunter said. “We got a second chance and we were able to leave The Pit the way we wanted to with a win and continuing our season.”
Division V, Region 19 first-round
No. 7 Amanda-Clearcreek 31,
No. 10 Minford 6
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Minford 0 0 0 6 6
Amanda-Clearcreek 7 17 7 0 31
AC — Hunter Matheny 1 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 8:37.
AC — Hunter Matheny 2 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 11:55.
AC — Nate Hunter 11 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 5:18.
AC — Jonny Weaver 39 field goal, 0:00.
AC — Nate Hunter 2 run (Jonny Weaver kick), 8:49.
MF — Trenton Zimmerman 15 pass from Devin Parker, 0:00.
First downs 13 17
Rushing yards 16-90 31-149
Passing yards 131 166
Comp.-Att.-Int 13-26-3 11-23-0
Total yards 221 315
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-25 1-5
RUSHING – Minford — Jeffrey Pica 10-94, Devin Parker 5-(-5), Tysen Kingery 1-1. Amanda-Clearcreek — Nate Hunter 14-91, Hunter Matheny 11-54, Grant Guiler 6-14.
PASSING – Minford — Devin Parker 13-26-3-131. Amanda-Clearcreek — Nate Hunter 11-23-0-166.
RECEIVING – Minford — Jeffrey Pica 2-14, Ethan Conally 3-56, Trenton Zimmerman 7-65, Jackson Shoemaker 1-6. Amanda-Clearcreek — Peyton Cassley 3-45, Brady Sharp 5-74, Grant Guiler 1-27, Tayvon Miller 2-20.
Copyright 2021 SportingPumpkin.com. Any unauthorized republication of content on this website is prohibited by law.