By Brad Morris
Blayton Reid had so many tears on his jersey from Westfall defenders — often unsuccessfully — trying to bring down the Logan Elm senior running back that Reid had to change jerseys on Friday during the second half.
Reid was still easy to find, despite the switch from 3 to 36, dragging and bouncing off defenders on his way to 225 yards rushing and three touchdowns that helped power the Braves to a 35-0 non-league win over visiting Westfall.
“When the ball is in Blayton’s hands, there is always a chance that something special might happen,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said. “Even if we don’t get it right at times or the defense overloads, Blayton has the ability to make guys miss and be elusive and very agile. He can also finish by punishing guys and getting those tough yards, like he showed in this game.”
Reid, a four-year starter who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last year despite being banged up for much of the second half of the season, was checked to 67 yards last week by Zane Trace in a 25-13 loss. As a team, the Braves rushed for just 34 yards.
“We wanted to play way more physical than we did last week,” Reid said. “I have to give all the credit to my offensive line, because those guys created holes for me to run through. I just did my job and ran hard with the football.”
“Everything we do on offense needs to stem from our run game,” Holbert added. “Our No. 1 focus this week offensively was being more physical and establishing our run game, and Blayton would be the first guy to credit our offensive line, especially the senior leadership that guys like RJ Weber, Gavin Griffey and Jake West showed tonight.”
On the opposite side of the trenches, the Braves limited the Mustangs to just 66 yards rushing, much of it gained on the final possession of the night. After Westfall passed for 262 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 38-20 win over Madison-Plains, Logan Elm held the Mustangs to 166 yards passing and came away with three interceptions, two of which ended drives deep into Braves’ territory.
Logan Elm also blocked a punt to set up its second touchdown of the evening.
“Coaches often talk about putting all three phases of the game together, and that’s something that our guys did tonight,” Holbert said. “When Westfall had a little success in the air, our defensive backs stepped up and came away with three huge interceptions that were momentum-changing plays.
“Our defensive line also did a nice job of winning battles up front, getting pressure on Westfall’s quarterback to disrupt their timing and shut down their run game. Then, our special teams came away with a big punt block. Every unit contributed to the big plays that we made.”
Logan Elm (1-1) went up-tempo for its second possession of the night, using 11 plays to cover 84 yards. Reid gained 52 yards on eight totes and quarterback Aaron Walters added 17 yards rushing, including faking a handoff to Reid and taking it 10 yards to pay dirt. The first of five extra points by Owen Elswick gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
“That’s a staple of what we’ve done over the last several years and something we wanted to get back to,” Holbert said. “We varied our tempo and used some no-huddle. We felt that was wearing on Westfall some, so we wanted to press that advantage.”
The ensuing Westfall possession ended when Weber and Griffey teamed to block a punt, with the Braves recovering 31 yards away from the goal line. Landon Thompson scored seven plays later on a four-yard run around left end to double the lead.
Braylen Baker ended the next Westfall possession by intercepting a pass and returning it 41 yards to the Mustangs’ 26-yard line. Reid used a nifty cutback to his left and scored from 19 yards out two plays later to give the Braves a 21-0 advantage.
Westfall (1-1) drove down to the Logan Elm 12 on its ensuing possession, but Drew Tomlinson intercepted a pass to keep the Mustangs off the scoreboard.
“I take full responsibility for the interceptions that we had, because I put (Bryce Wickline) in some tough situations,” Westfall coach Logan Stepp said. “He made some good throws, and we were able to move the football through the air at times. Bryce is a good quarterback, and we’ll continue to work and try to put him in better situations.”
Reid powered the Braves’ first drive of the second half, covering 60 yards on only four carries. He bounced off and dragged defenders on his last two carries of 24 and 25 yards that increased Logan Elm’s lead to 28-0.
Westfall had one final opportunity to score in the third quarter as it drove down to Logan Elm’s 23-yard line, but Carson Summers came away with the final interception of the evening.
“Our defensive backs did a nice job of reading the quarterback and making some plays that gave us a short field or the ball back with some momentum,” Reid said.
Reid capped scoring with a 28-yard touchdown run to initiate the running clock with 9:29 remaining in the game.
Holbert complimented the play of sophomore quarterback Aaron Walters, who completed 5 of 9 passes for 86 yards and also added 21 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“Aaron did a nice job of taking care of the football and making good decisions,” he said.
Wickline completed 13 of 22 passes for 160 yards, with Casey Cline catching six of those throws for 114 yards.
Stepp reflected on what the Mustangs will need to work on as they prepare to face another Pickaway County rival, the unbeaten Circleville Tigers, next week in the county seat.
“Logan Elm did some things up front that their coach did a good job of not showing until tonight,” he said. “Logan Elm’s defensive line played hard, physical, fast and we weren’t quite ready for that. Again, that’s on me.
“I want to see how our guys respond off of this, because it obviously takes some wind out of our sails. I saw some tears in the postgame huddle tonight, but that shows this means something to them and that these guys are invested. We need to get back after it, starting on Saturday with film and have a good week of practice. We’re still gelling together with a lot of juniors and sophomores learning on the run out there.”
Stepp discussed sitting down with senior center Hunter Probasco after the game as an indication of how he wants to see the Mustangs bounce back from their first loss of the season.
“Hunter and I sat down and talked after the game for several minutes about what went right, what went wrong and what we need to work on,” he said. “He’s the leader and the heart of our offensive line and our guys lean on him, sometimes maybe a bit too much. That kid is a warrior and I know what this means to him and I think means to a lot of our guys playing out there.”
The Braves close non-league play next week when they host Miami Trace (1-1), a 28-22 winner last night over Wilmington.
“This was a step forward for our guys,” Holbert said. “We handled the adversity of losing last week and got better. Now, we need to continue and progress as a team after a win, as we prepare to face a pretty solid Miami Trace team.”
Logan Elm 35,
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Westfall 0 0 0 0 0
Logan Elm 7 14 7 7 35
LE — Aaron Walters 10 run (Owen Elswick kick), 4:27.
LE — Landon Thompson 4 run (Owen Elswick kick), 9:30.
LE — Blayton Reid 19 run (Owen Elswick kick), 6:04
LE — Blayton Reid 25 run (Owen Elswick kick), 8:50.
LE — Blayton Reid 28 run (Owen Elswick kick), 9:29.
First downs 9 19
Rushing yards 26-66 39-251
Passing yards 166 86
Comp.-Att.-Int 14-23-3 5-9-0
Total yards 232 337
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 9-70 4-27
Punts-Ave. 6-21.5 4-37.5
RUSHING – Westfall — Bryce Wickline 10-24, Caleb Cline 4-21, Tanner Scheel 3-(-3), Joey Wright 9-24. Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 29-225, Aaron Walters 6-21, Landon Thompson 1-4, Michael Bock 2-(-2), Josh Hunter 1-(-7).
PASSING – Westfall — Bryce Wickline 13-22-3-160, Caleb Cline 1-1-0-6. Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 5-9-0-86.
RECEIVING – Westfall — Casey Cline 6-114, Trent Walters 4-24, Isaiah Browning 1-9, Connor Geer 1-6, Jaden Towler 1-1, Noah Cohen 1-12. Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 1-29, Camden Redd 1-25, Braylen Baker 3-32.
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