by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
CHILLICOTHE — A lift from special teams helped Circleville get out in front on the way to beating Southeastern 46-22 Friday night.
The Tigers returned a kickoff for a score and recovered a blocked punt for another in grabbing a 20-6 first quarter lead.
The game got off to a favorable start for Circleville when defensive lineman Trent Fulgham recovered a fumble on the fourth play of the game.
Wasting no time, Scott Moats connected with Joe Streitenberger on Circleville’s first offensive play to cover 39 yards and put the Tigers up 7-0.
Southeastern answered with a six-play drive that finished with quarterback Joey Pfiefer going the final 11 yards. The PAT failed leaving Circleville up 7-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, Circleville senior Omari Graham exploded through an opening and raced more than 90 yards for a score.
“Whether we’re kicking off or the other team is kicking off, you’re scared to death when the ball hits the ground because it’s like everyone loses their minds. Guys got out of their lanes and our guys got on their blocks and stayed on their blocks, things opened wide up and Omari took it to the house,” Circleville coach Steve Evans said.
It looked like Circleville was going to get a second kick return for a score in the second half only to have a flag negate Daniel Cutliff’s 72-yard return.
“We had a good punt return, but we got called for that block in the back,” Evans said. “That’s something we’ve got to learn from but we also know we’ve got a couple weapons back there.”
Only a few plays after the kickoff return for a TD, Circleville’s special teams struck again.
Forcing a Southeastern punt on the 11-yard line, the Panthers had trouble with the snap and Circleville blocked the punt attempt with Sam Crosby recovering the ball in the end zone for a score.
Though the PAT kick failed, the Tiger were up 20-6 despite having run only one offensive play.
Circleville added two more first-half touchdowns on a 10-yard run by Angelo Travis and a nine-yard run from Jude Blair in taking a 33-14 lead at halftime.
Circleville’s first two possessions of the second half culminated with a one-yard score from quarterback Scott Moats and a 23-yard scoring run from Drew Thornsley to go up 46-14.
Southeastern had one last scoring drive in the fourth quarter with Trusten McWhorter scoring from four yards out and running the PAT to close the final gap to 46-22.
Of Circleville’s eight offensive possessions, five ended in touchdowns, one ended on a lost fumble inside the 10, one was finished with a 53-yard punt by Moats and the Tigers were in possession of the ball when the game ended.
“We had all aspects going,” Evans said. “We had some exposure defensively, so we’ve got some things to fix.
“We were putting points on the board and good things were happening. I thought we were a little better offensively and penalty wise.”
Circleville ended the night with 355 yards of offense (248 on the ground and 107 in the air) while Southeastern had 283 (244 on the ground and 39 through the air).
Blair was Circleville’s leading rusher with 68 yards and Nolan West had two catches for 49.
McWhorter led the Panthers with 106 yards rushing.
With the win, Circleville improves to 2-0 — a spot they were in last year before finishing the season 2-8. Before the post-game huddle broke, senior Angelo Travis reminded his teammates that they were in the same spot last year and they needed to come in ready to work next week.
“That’s a senior stepping up and speaking the truth of what needs to happen,” Evans said. “I don’t think we got a big head last year, we just ran into some really good competition. We played two pretty good teams (Heath, which finished 10-3, and Bloom-Carroll, which finished 14-1) and all of a sudden it was here we go again and back to the losing ways. We’ve got to be able to get over that hump.”
If Circleville is going to get that third win, the Tigers will have to beat Westfall when the 1-1 Mustangs come to visit next Friday. Southeastern (0-2) will try for its first win when it travels to Beaver next Friday to take on the Eastern Eagles.
Circleville 46, Southeastern 22
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 20 13 13 0 46
Southeastern 6 8 0 8 22
CV — Joe Streitenberger 39 pass from Scott Moats (Scott Moats kick), 10:09.
SE — Joey Pfiefer 11 run (run failed), 6:54.
CV — Omari Graham 92 kickoff return (Scott Moats kick), 6:40.
CV — Sam Crosby recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed), 4:39.
CV — Angelo Travis 10 run (run failed), 7:04.
SE — Ryan Peters 44 run (Trusten McWhorter run), 3:31.
CV— Jude Blair 9 run (Scott Moats kick), 0:34.
CV — Scott Moats 1 run (pass failed), 8:42.
CV — Drew Thornsley 23 run (Scott Moats kick), 4:05.
SE — Trusten McWhorter 4 run (Trusten McWhorter run), 3:13.
First downs 15 11
Rushing yards 31-248 39-244
Passing yards 107 39
Comp.-Att.-Int 4-7-0 10-13-0
Total yards 355 283
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 4-40 2-20
Punts-Ave. 1-53 3-27
RUSHING – Circleville — Jude Blair 11-68, Scott Moats 6-56, Angelo Travis 4-39, Daniel Cutliff 1-32, Drew Thornsley 2-32, Jake Yancey 1-0, Parker Kidwell 2-9, Ashdon Rickard 3-15, Hudson Phalin 1-(-3). Southeastern — Trusten McWhorter 23-106, Joey Pfiefer 5-57, Caleb Cutright 5-(-2), Ryan Peters 6-83.
PASSING – Circleville — Scott Moats 4-7-0-107. Southeastern — Joey Pfiefer 10-13-0-39.
RECEIVING – Circleville — Joe Streitenberger 1-39, Jacob Johnson 1-19, Nolan West 2-49. Southeastern — Gage Cheadle 5-17, RJ Cartwright 3-21, Travis Chenault 1-1.