by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
The score had been stuck at 14-0 for more than half the night when Logan Elm came up with a turnover and sealed the game with a third touchdown to beat Circleville 21-0 in the fifth installment of the Backyard Brawl.
“Offensively we got off to a really good start and started fast, then Circleville stood strong and made some adjustments and, for about two-and-a-half quarters, it was a standstill, a defensive battle,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said. “Give our defense a ton of credit, they played a tremendous game again tonight and came up with a couple big turnovers and forced some major stoppages when we needed to have them. Then finally there at the end, the offense got churning again and we punched in that third score, which was huge.”
With time ticking away in the fourth quarter, Logan Elm’s Tanner Holbert had his second interception of the night and returned it to the eight-yard line. On the next play, Blayton Reid went those last eight yards to give the Braves a 21-0 lead with 4:16 left, effectively sealing the win.
Circleville lost a fumble a minute later and Logan Elm was able to pick up a couple of first downs to finish off the clock.
“It’s a league win, it’s a county win and it’s huge rivalry win, so in each of those columns, it’s a big win for us,” Holbert said.
“It’s really special. We’re 10 minutes away from each other and you know most of the guys on the other team,” Reid said. “It’s always a fun game. It’s a big win and a fun win.”
While the teams have been meeting regularly since the 1990s, this is the fifth year the game has carried the added significance of winning the Kingston National Bank Backyard Brawl Trophy.
Logan Elm won the trophy in 2018 18-12, Circleville won it in 2019 20-14, LE got it back in 2020 with a 41-22 win and kept it last year after beating the Tigers 21-0.
The night started with it looking like the Braves could have a big game as their first two possessions ended with touchdowns — the first a four-yard run from Reid and the second a one-yarder from Aaron Walters.
From that point on, Logan Elm was unable to pick up more than two first downs on a possession. Defensively, the Braves did the same thing to Circleville all night as the Tigers had just one possession where they were able to muster two first downs.
After starting out 3-0, this is the second straight loss for the Tigers.
“It’s going to take us being able to step up and make some plays,” Circleville coach Steve Evans said of getting back in the win column. “In the end, we turned the football over and they didn’t. We had a couple of missed opportunities and those things are learning blocks and we’ve got to continue to build on them.
“We got down early 14-nothing and it could have gotten out of control real quick. They continued to battle. We weren’t able to muster anything up offensively, but they battled and kept it a two-score game until we made a mistake deep in their territory.”
Logan Elm ended the night with 360 yards of offense to Circleville’s 140.
“Week by week, we’ve gotten a little better,” coach Holbert said. “Tonight, certainly there are some things we’ve got to clean up on the offensive end, but we found a way to get it done, to put the game away and win a close one and that’s important.”
Reid led the way with 137 yards rushing (104 in the first half). Walters was 12-19 passing for 169 yards. Landon Thompson had 61 receiving yards to go with 32 on the ground.
Jude Blair led Circleville with 85 yards rushing and Nolan West had five catches for 33 yards.
Logan Elm (4-1, 2-0) returns home next week to host Fairfield Union (2-3, 0-2). Fairfield Union lost to Hamilton Township (2-2, 1-1) 32-24 Friday.
“This league is very hard to get wins in, so we’re just taking it week by week, focusing on our opponent,” Tanner Holbert said. “Every one is a big one. We know we can’t slide off after this. We have to keep our heads up and move forward after this win.”
Circleville (3-2, 0-2) will look to get back on the winning track when the Tigers head to Amanda-Clearcreek (0-5, 0-2). The Aces are coming off a 42-13 loss to Bloom-Carroll (4-1, 2-0) Friday.
“We look at our two losses and we’ve turned the football over more than the other team. We made mistakes offensively and we’ve got to fix those and be ready to go,” Evans said. “Amanda hasn’t won a game, it’s their homecoming and they’re going to be hungry and come ready to play. We’ve got to get ready, fix our mistakes and come ready to play.”
Logan Elm 21, Circleville 0
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Logan Elm 14 0 0 7 21
Circleville 0 0 0 0 0
LE — Blayton Reid 4 run (Owen Elswick kick), 8:50.
LE — Aaron Walters 1 run (Owen Elswick kick), 2:36.
LE — Blayton Reid 8 run (Owen Elswick kick), 4:16.
First downs 17 8
Rushing yards 41-191 24-93
Passing yards 169 47
Comp.-Att.-Int 12-19-0 8-20-2
Total yards 360 140
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 8-60 3-25
Punts-Ave 4-35 6-43
RUSHING – Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 24-137, Aaron Walters 8-22, Landon Thompson 9-32. Circleville — Jude Blair 21-85, Scott Moats 3-8.
PASSING – Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 12-19-0-169. Circleville — Scott Moats 9-19-2-47, Parker Kidwell 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – Logan Elm — Landon Thompson 4-61, Tanner Holbert 3-25, Braylen Baker 3-20, Carson Summers 1-7, Camden Redd 1-56. Circleville — Nolan West 5-33, Jacob Johnson 1-0, Omari Graham 1-4, JD Reuter 1-10.