By Brad Morris
Carson Summers had seen the play before on Friday and this time the Logan Elm junior was ready to jump the route.
“(Liberty Union quarterback Cayden Carroll) had thrown that quick out a couple of times earlier in the first half, so I was ready for it again,” Summers said. “I saw it coming; I jumped the route, and I took it to the house.”
Summers intercepted a Carroll pass and returned the pigskin 67 yards down the visiting sideline for a touchdown.
The play sparked the Braves to score twice in the final minute of the first half to seize control of a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game and defeat visiting Liberty Union 34-14.
Despite dominating much of the first half, the Braves were nursing a 14-7 lead with the Lions driving with a second-and-nine on the Logan Elm 36-yard line. That’s when Summers changed the complexion of the game.
“I felt like our defense had been playing pretty well in the first half, but we had allowed a couple of big plays when Liberty Union scored its first touchdown and another on that drive that put them on our side of the field,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said. “Carson’s interception there was huge for a lot of reasons. It was a big momentum swing, especially since he took it all the way back for a touchdown.”
The Lions (2-5, 1-3) then gave the Braves another opportunity when they fumbled on the first offensive play of the ensuing possession, with Keegan Diehl coming up with the football on the Liberty Union 38-yard line.
Landon Thompson showed tremendous concentration when he made a second effort to catch a pass from Walters to give the Braves a first-and-10 on the LU 22-yard line.
Following three incomplete passes, the Braves had their final shot to score on fourth down with a second remaining on the clock.
Walters threw a dart on a post route that Braylen Baker caught for a touchdown, sending the Braves (6-1, 4-0) into halftime with a suddenly commanding 27-7 lead.
“Aaron made a couple of mistakes earlier in the first half, but he showed a lot of poise and continued to battle and compete,” Holbert said. “That was an incredible throw that he made to Braylen there, and that gave us a huge lift going into halftime.
“Aaron took some shots from the defense since it was a physical game, but he’s a tough kid and he showed a lot of resiliency.”
The Braves extended their lead to 34-7 when Walters and Baker hooked up for their third touchdown connection of homecoming night, this time from 16 yards out with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Logan Elm started fast, taking the opening kickoff and using four plays to cover 60 yards. Blayton Reid broke off a 29-yard run and then capped the drive two plays later with a 21-yard touchdown run around left side. The first of four extra points by Owen Elswick gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.
Logan Elm doubled its lead later in the quarter on a nine-play drive that covered 65 yards. Walters moved the chains on third-and-four from the LU 47-yard line when he threw a screen pass to Tanner Holbert for eight yards.
Walters then found a wide-open Baker on a flag route that the Logan Elm senior took to paydirt from 44 yards out.
“I missed last week to rest an injury, so I was definitely ready to get back out on the field and make some plays,” Baker said. “Our offensive line did a great job of protecting Aaron and then he threw some nice passes that I was able to haul in.”
Liberty Union reached the scoreboard late in the first quarter when Carroll scrambled to evade pressure and found Noah Shook for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Logan Elm outgained Liberty Union 301-97 during the first half and finished the game with 374 yards of total offense to 214 for the Lions. The Braves also forced three takeaways.
Walters was 13-for-25 passing for 184 yards and three touchdowns, with Baker catching six of those passes for 128 yards and all three scores.
Thompson gained 60 yards rushing and also made three receptions for 23 yards.
Reid, who was coming off breaking the single-game program rushing record last week, had 88 yards rushing on 20 carries and a touchdown, all in the first half. Michael Bock came on in the second half in relief and covered 55 yards on 13 totes.
“It was nice to give Blayton some rest in the second half and get to see some of what Michael can do for us,” Holbert said. “Michael is a shifty back that can take it to the house if he gets a lane.”
Caden Courts paced the Lions with 12 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. Carroll threw for 56 yards and a score and added 41 yards rushing.
The Braves sacked Carroll three times, with Camden Redd making two of those sacks. RJ Weber and Thompson led the defense with five solo tackles apiece.
Liberty Union continues league play next week when it hosts Fairfield Union (2-5, 0-4), which was shutout 42-0 by Bloom-Carroll last night.
The Braves turn their attention to a showdown next week at four-time defending league champion Bloom-Carroll (6-1, 4-0).
“Bloom-Carroll’s a good team and they’ve been on top of the league for several years now,” Baker said. “We’re coming in with a lot of momentum, like they are, so we are going to have to go over there and play a physical game.”
Logan Elm 34,
Liberty Union 14
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Liberty Union 7 0 7 0 14
Logan Elm 14 13 7 0 34
LE — Blayton Reid 21 run (Owen Elswick kick), 10:51.
LE — Braylen Baker 44 pass from Aaron Walters (Owen Elswick kick), 3:16.
LU — Noah Shook 56 pass from Cayden Carroll (Storm Wolfel kick), 1:39.
LE — Carson Summers 67 interception return (Owen Elswick kick), 0:59.
LE — Braylen Baker 22 pass from Aaron Walters (kick failed), 0:00.
LE — Braylen Baker 16 pass from Aaron Walters (Owen Elswick kick), 7:08.
LU — Caden Courts 7 run (Storm Wolfel kick), 3:37.
First downs 9 20
Rushing yards 35-158 40-190
Passing yards 56 184
Comp.-Att.-Int 1-14-1 13-25-2
Total yards 214 374
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-40 1-10
Punts-Ave. 8-37 3-35.3
RUSHING – Liberty Union — Caden Courts 12-120, Cayden Carroll 18-41, Camden Manson 3-1, Troy Meyers 1-0, Noah Shook 1-(-4). Logan Elm — Blayton Reid 20-88, Landon Thompson 2-60, Michael Bock 13-55, Aaron Walters 5-(-13).
PASSING – Liberty Union — Cayden Carroll 1-14-1-56. Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 13-25-2-184.
RECEIVING – Liberty Union — Noah Shook 1-56. Logan Elm — Braylen Baker 6-128, Landon Thompson 3-23, Blayton Reid 1-10, Tanner Holbert 1-8, Keegan Diehl 1-8, Carson Summers 1-7.
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