by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
ASHVILLE — If it’s going to be the last time you play someone, why not make it exciting.
And it sure was at Teays Valley Friday night as Logan Elm took the lead with 34 seconds to go and then held off the host Vikings to secure a 35-28 win.
Not only did the game wrap up the series between the two schools as Teays Valley moves to the Ohio Capital Conference next year, LE’s win set up a league championship scenario for the Braves when unbeaten Hamilton Township pays a visit to LE next week.
“We created history. With years of playing, this is the last one and I got to be a part of it, and it feels good,” LE’s Landon Thompson said. “I’m excited and ready to go celebrate with my boys.”
And he was a big part of it. Thompson scored the Braves’ first touchdown of the night and, with the clock winding down, he went around the right side and fought his way into the endzone from 22 yards out with 34 seconds left to put the Braves on top.
It capped a drive that started 80 yards away and with only 1:40 on the clock.
It started with a 25-yard pass to Camden Redd, followed by six yards to Cameron Smith and then three yards to Hunter Kersey.
LE called a timeout to regroup and went to Thompson who gained nine yards on the ground. A facemask tacked on 15 yards setting up Thompson’s scoring run.
“When it mattered most, our guys stepped up and made plays,” LE coach Terry Holbert said. ““We put it on those senior leaders and those guys stepped up and played a tremendous half of football.
“What a drive to finish it off,” he added. “We started with the pass to Cam Redd. The effort on that play for him to get extra yards put us in position to where now we can open it up and do some things. I can’t think of a sweeter ending than giving it to LT twice and letting him score the game winner.”
Thompson had 96 yards rushing on 17 carries and he caught four passes.
“There was a special type of hunger about him tonight,” Holbert said. “In that situation, we were going to give him the ball to see what he can do, and he came up big for us.”
The first half went the way of the Vikings as they took advantage of some shorter fields and hit big plays through the air to jump out in front.
Kole Nungester threw a 39-yard scoring pass to Spike Woods, a 56-yard TD pass to Cavin McDowell and a 20-yard TD pass to Woods on the team’s first three possessions to get out in front 21-7 two minutes into the second quarter.
“We felt from watching film there were three or four things we could do to them, that we could hit big plays and every one of those plays hit for us and jumped out to that 21-whatever lead,” TV coach Brian Cross said.
The Braves got their first score on a Thompson run and made it 21-14 on a 13-yard pass play from Aaron Walters to Hunter Kersey.
TV had another chance to score but a 39-yard field goal attempt went a little bit right.
The half finished with TV up 21-14.
The Vikings hurt themselves to start the second half.
After taking the ball inside the red zone, TV committed the game’s only turnover as it lost a fumble giving the Braves the ball at the 11.
“We were moving the ball on them, and we kept making mental mistakes. We turned the ball over down here and it looked like we were going in to score and that would have put us up two touchdowns,” Cross said. “When you have those type of opportunities, you’ve got to do it and we didn’t do it.”
A few plays later, Walters hit Carson Summers for a 22-yard gain and then connected with Redd for a 67-yard touchdown to tie the game.
After the Vikings turned the ball over on downs at the LE 34, the Braves mounted a 15-play drive that included a crucial four-yard run from Walters on fourth down at midfield to keep the drive going. A 31-yard pass to Kersey gave LE a first-and-goal at the 1 and the Braves needed all four attempts to get that yard with Walters finally crossing the goal to give his team their first lead of the night at 28-21 with 10 minutes left in the game.
TV answered back with a seven-play drive that wrapped up with Nungester connecting with Harrison Payne for a 20-yard score to tie the game.
TV limited the Braves to one yard on their next possession and, after the punt, took over at its own 45.
The Vikings drove down as close as the 12-yard line, but a grounding call moved the ball back to the 24 and, after an incompletion, the Vikings brought out their strong-legged kicker, Spencer Maxwell, to attempt a 40-yard field goal for the lead.
Maxwell had plenty of leg, but his kick hit about two-thirds of the way up the left upright and bounced back into the endzone setting the Braves up to begin the game-winning drive.
Cross said he sees the game as a night of too many missed opportunities.
“The heartbreaking part about it, they say more games are lost than won. And I kind of feel like we lost that game as opposed to them winning, and I hope that doesn’t sound like sour grapes,” he said. “We were down here and turned the ball over, we were down there and had a couple of mental mistakes and our ball hits the goal post, that’s tough luck. We had plenty of opportunities to win this game and put it away and we didn’t do it.”
The teams combined for more than 800 yards of offense Friday with the Vikings amassing 423 and the Braves 394.
Walters threw for 292 while Nungester threw for 265.
Walters spread his passes out amongst five receivers with Redd catching four for 122 yards, Summer was 4-76 and Kersey went 4-65.
Nungester connected with six receivers with Harrison Payne catching five for 57 yards and Ethan Schwalbauch catching four for 65.
Woods was the game’s top rusher with 116 yards while Thompson had 96.
While the LE/TV series dates back to before they were Mid-State League rivals, the two schools met up 40 times in MSL action with the Braves coming out on top in the series 24-16.
“We spent a lot of time this week talking about the history of this game and this rivalry,” Holbert said. “I know that Teays doesn’t play a full county schedule, but for us this is the last time making the county rounds. This was for the county championship tonight. Both teams undefeated against the county schools so that was on the line for us and I’m really happy for our kids.”
Logan Elm (8-1, 5-1) hosts Hamilton Township (9-0, 6-0) in the regular season finale. The Rangers kicked a late field goal to hand Bloom-Carroll its first league loss since 2019 Friday. If the Braves can get the W next week, it would give them a share of the league title and would secure a home playoff game.
The way the schedule played out is getting the Braves tested and ready for the postseason.
“The Mid-State League is week-in and week-out a gauntlet,” Holbert said. “To have Bloom and then Teays and Hamilton here in the last half, that’s great preparation for post-season play. We’ll see what we’ve got against Hamilton next week.”
Week 10 is a continuation of what this Braves team has been doing since the beginning.
“We’ve been working hard – winter, summer and now we still work out, practice every single day,” Thompson said. “This is definitely a team sport, and we work good as a team when we play.”
For the Vikings, the end of their time in the Mid-State League will be at the same place they began league play in 1984 — at Fairfield Union.
The Vikings won that game 9-8.
Cross is looking for his young team to finish out on a winning note as they keep gaining experience.
“We had five seniors here tonight and three of them were dressed,” he said. “We’re playing a lot of sophomores and juniors, and you shouldn’t do that on Friday night. Games should be played on Friday nights by juniors and seniors. That’s been rough on us but I’m really proud of the way our kids played tonight because they played their hearts out.
“It hurt tonight. For the first time this year there were some tears in their eyes after the game. You have to get to that point where you put in so much effort that when you lose it hurts and we did that tonight.
“Now we’ve got one more game and it won’t be an easy game. Those guys are physical as heck, and it will be back to the drawing board on Monday.”
The Falcons sit at 5-4, 3-3 after a 35-14 win against Amanda-Clearcreek Friday. The Vikings have a matching 3-3 league record to go with a 4-5 overall mark.
Logan Elm 35, Teays Valley 28
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Logan Elm 7 7 7 14 35
Teays Valley 14 7 0 7 28
TV — Spike Woods 39 pass from Kole Nungester (Spencer Maxwell kick), 8:23.
LE — Landon Thompson 6 run (Maggie Wilson kick), 3:34.
TV — Cavin McDowell 56 pass from Kole Nungester (Spencer Maxwell kick), 2:40.
TV — Spike Woods 25 pass from Kole Nungester (Spencer Maxwell kick), 10:17
LE — Hunter Kersey 19 pass from Aaron Walters (Dawsen Hudson kick), 7:14.
LE — Camden Redd 67 pass from Aaron Walters (Dawsen Hudson kick), 6:18.
LE — Aaron Walters 1 run (Dawsen Hudson kick), 10:14.
TV — Harrison Payne 20 pass from Kole Nungester (Spencer Maxwell kick), 7:08.
LE — Landon Thompson 22 run (Dawsen Hudson kick), 0:34.
First downs 19 20
Rushing yards 33-129 32-158
Passing yards 292 265
Comp.-Att.-Int 18-26-0 15-26-265
Total yards 394 423
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 8-51 9-47
Punts-Ave 4-36 0-0
RUSHING – Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 7-(-13), Michael Bock 9-46, Landon Thompson 17-96. Teays Valley — Spike Woods 20-116, Kole Nungester 8-37, Harrison Payne 2-0, Jeremiah Fabbro 1-0, Carson Payne 1-5.
PASSING – Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 18-26-0-292. Teays Valley — Kole Nungester 15-26-0-265.
RECEIVING – Logan Elm — Landon Thompson 4-5, Cameron Smith 3-24, Carson Summers 4-76, Camden Redd 4-122, Hunter Kersey 4-65. Teays Valley — Harrison Payne 5-57, Spike Woods 2-64, Ethan Schwalbauch 4-51, Cavin McDowell 1-56, Dai’Preece Weaver 2-17, Luke Burgett 1-20.