Vikings grind out win over Falcons

By Brad Morris
SportingPumpkin.com

ASHVILLE — Woody Hayes once made the comment that three things can happen when a team throws the football and two of them are bad.

And that’s something Teays Valley had found out during non-league play, averaging two interceptions as the Vikings lost two of their first three games.

Teays Valley went back to old reliable on Friday, turning to its ground-and-pound attack to produce 214 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-14 Mid-State League Buckeye Division win over visiting Fairfield Union.

“We’re always comfortable running the ball with the guys we have who can carry the football and the way our line can get things done up front,” Teays Valley coach Mark Weber said. “We had (junior wide receiver) Harrison Payne and a few other key guys out with injuries, but maybe that was a blessing in disguise because it let us get back to more of the identity we’ve had in the past.”

Teays Valley averaged four turnovers during non-league play but committed just one against Fairfield Union.

“When you fling around the football (27) times per game like we have been doing, you are going to throw a few interceptions, especially at the high school level,” Weber observed. “We really hurt ourselves a lot in the first three weeks with all of those turnovers, so we’ve been putting a big emphasis on taking care of the football and also trying to call plays that are less risky.

“We have some good athletes on the perimeter that we want to use, so we will pass the ball in the future more than we did against Fairfield Union, but we want to be more balanced between the run and pass and not be throwing the ball around as many times as we have been.”

The Vikings also cut down on penalties, committing just two for 20 yards after averaging 76 yards of infractions during non-league play.

Gavin Karshner used 17 carries to gain 111 yards and scored a touchdown, Richard Odum covered 46 yards on eight carries with a pair of scores and Griffin Gray added 32 yards on three touches.

Teays Valley’s Richard Odum scores the first touchdown of the night from eight yards out, with offensive lineman Mike Back (57) running alongside.

The night started rough for the Vikings (2-2, 1-0) as they couldn’t handle an opening directional kick toward the visiting sideline that the Falcons (2-2, 0-1) recovered on the TV 38-yard line.

Fairfield Union drove down to the 15, but an offensive face mask penalty derailed the drive and a 32-yard field goal attempt went wide left.

“We put our defense in a bad situation right from the get-go and those guys stepped up and kept Fairfield Union off the scoreboard,” Weber said.

Teays Valley wasted no time in chewing up yardage, using 10 plays to cover 80 yards and drain four minutes and 27 seconds off the clock.

Karshner gained 32 yards on five carries, Gray broke off a run for 34 yards and Odum finished the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run around left end.

Teays Valley’s Richard Odum celebrates his first touchdown run of the night with Brody Bailey (10) and Landen McFarland (54).

The first of three extra points by Cale Clifton gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead.

Fairfield Union tied the game in the opening minutes of the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown scamper courtesy of Brennen Rowles.

Teays Valley then turned to its special teams to help reestablish its lead.

Parker Baisden came through the right side of the line untouched, blocked the punt after the football left the tip of Owen Ruff’s shoe and then tackled him.

“We talk about game-changing plays and we had two of them on special teams that led to us winning the football game,” Weber said. “I asked Parker about it after the play and he said that he knew he blocked the punt with his hand and then he was able to tackle the punter, as well. That’s Parker in a nutshell. He’s a high energy guy.”

The Vikings took over on the Falcons’ 27-yard line and scored two plays later on a 17-yard run by Odum to reclaim the lead for good at 14-7.

Teays Valley tacked on another touchdown later in the quarter on an eight-play drive that went for 55 yards.

The Vikings returned to a more measured passing game behind freshman Kaden Hines starting his first game. Hines moved the chains on third-and-eight when he connected with Gavin Sparks on an 18-yard pass.

Teays Valley then closed the drive five plays later when Hines hit Trent Wolpert on a screen that he took 16 yards to pay dirt.

Hines went on to finish the game an efficient 6 of 10 passing for 69 yards with the aforementioned touchdown.

“Kaden took care of the football, he ran the offense and did a great job of conducting us out there on the field,” Weber praised. “Kaden has an on-field presence unlike any other quarterback that I’ve ever coached. He commands the huddle, gets us up to the line quick and he’s a high-energy, smart guy.

“It took us about a week-and-a-half to two weeks to realize that we have something special in Kaden. When he was the backup, some backups will screw off and not pay attention, but Kaden was right by our offensive coordinator watching every play, talking about it and asking questions.”

That’s where the score stayed until the Falcons reached the scoreboard again with their first possession of the fourth quarter.

Hayden Collins capped a 44-yard drive with a three-yard run over the goal line that cut the TV lead to 21-14 with 7:29 remaining.

The Vikings received a major break when the Falcons forced them to punt with less than five minutes remaining from the Falcons’ 37-yard line. The snap sailed over the head of Clifton, who retrieved the loose pigskin and was still able to get off a punt that landed on the 16. A Falcon defender ran into Clifton after he punted the football, resulting in a five-yard penalty and a fourth-and-one that the Vikings elected to go for.

“That was the other game-changer, because we go from potential disaster to a second chance where we put the game away,” Weber said. “Cale was calm under fire, he tracked down the football, got off a great punt and drew that big penalty.”

Karshner scored on the next play when he bounced it outside to his left after meeting initial resistance from the defensive line and scored from 31 yards out to give the Vikings a 27-14 lead.

Teays Valley’s Gavin Karshner rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown in a 27-14 win over Fairfield Union.

The Falcons had 207 yards rushing, paced by Kevin Hazelwood gaining 55 yards on eight carries, Rowles covering 52 yards on nine totes with a score and Collins using 16 carries go gain 49 yards with a touchdown.

“Fairfield Union has a tough offensive scheme that’s hard to simulate in practice and those guys have been running it for a few years and are pretty good at it,” Weber said. “Our defense was bend but don’t break and did a nice job of holding them to a couple of scores.”

Teays Valley starts a two-game league road swing next week against Liberty Union (2-2, 1-0), a 42-0 winner over Amanda-Clearcreek last night. Fairfield Union returns home to entertain Hamilton Township (1-2, 0-1), which fell 28-7 to Logan Elm.

“Every week is going to be a grind in this league,” Weber said. “Getting this win allows us to see what happens when you do a much better job of playing basic football and eliminating all of those turnovers and penalties that had been really hurting us.

“This is something we can build off of moving forward.”

Teays Valley’s Jeremiah Fabbro (4), River Rigsby (8) and Hayden Wells (bottom) team up to tackle Fairfield Union’s Kevin Hazelwood.

Teays Valley 27,
Fairfield Union 14
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F

Fairfield Union 0 7 0 7 14

Teays Valley 7 14 0 6 27

First Quarter

TV — Richard Odum 8 run (Cale Clifton kick), 4:20.

Second Quarter

FU — Brennen Rowles 11 run (Isabella Neal kick), 9:21.

TV — Richard Odum 17 run (Cale Clifton kick), 4:05.

TV — Trent Wolpert 16 pass from Kaden Hines (Cale Clifton kick), 0:40.

Fourth Quarter

FU — Hayden Collins 3 run (Isabella Neal kick), 7:29.

TV — Gavin Karshner 38 run (kick blocked), 4:39.

TEAM STATISTICS

FU TV

First downs 14 18

Rushing yards 44-207 40-214

Passing yards -5 69

Comp.-Att.-Int 1-4-0 6-10-0

Total yards 202 283

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 7-55 2-20

Punts-Ave. 4-27 3-37

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING – Fairfield Union — Kevin Hazelwood 8-55, Brennen Rowles 9-52, Hayden Collins 16-49, Owen Ruff 5-27, Jayden Prichard 4-23, Thomas Poling 1-7, Team 1-(-6). Teays Valley — Gavin Karshner 17-111, Richard Odum 8-46, Griffin Gray 3-32, Ethan Schwalbauch 5-12, Brody Bailey 2-12, Lane Schooley 1-3, Kaden Hines 3-(-2).

PASSING – Fairfield Union — Kevin Hazelwood 0-1-0-0, Hayden Collins 1-3-0-(-5). Teays Valley — Kaden Hines 6-10-0-69.

RECEIVING – Brennen Rowles 1-(-5). Teays Valley  — Gavin Sparks 3-39, Trent Wolpert 3-30.

Teays Valley’s Griffin Gray had 32 yards rushing.

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