by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
Hamilton Township rolled into Logan Elm with an unbeaten record, but the Braves still had a shot at the league title, and they executed. By the time the game clock ran out, the Braves had held their visitors scoreless and grabbed a piece of their first league championship since 2011.
LE (9-1, 6-1) had a touchdown in all four quarters in picking up the 28-0 win and shares the Mid-State League Buckeye Division title with the Rangers (9-1, 6-1) and Bloom-Carroll (8-2, 6-1).
The Braves outgained the Rangers 376-204 while grabbing four turnovers.
And quarterback Aaron Walters said the Braves’ big effort started up front.
“Our line all week, the scout ‘D’, everybody’s been pushing them all week. Coach said this was going to be a tough game and it was going to be won in the trenches. I think we won the trenches,” Walters said. “The big boys up front – I can’t do it without them — Conner Green, Colton Eplin, Bryce Perkins, Abram Montgomery, Ian Roese — all them boys up front, they won us the game. Our defense was amazing. Landon Thompson and Michael Bock played their hearts out.”
Thompson ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns Friday.
“Landon Thompson, he had the night of his life. That’s the best I’ve ever seen him play and I’ve been with him for two years and played against him for multiple years,” Walters said. “I don’t know how many people he put on their butts. The line opened up holes for him, Michael Bock hurdled somebody, they played their hearts out.”
Bock ran for 50 yards and had a 33-yard touchdown reception.
Thompson said his night was possible because of what the line was doing.
“Holes the size of Mack trucks up there. They played great,” he said. “They give me a little crack and I hit it and I go, that’s what they’re supposed to do. But, no, they were leaving big holes. They played really good tonight as a team, every single down.”
The Rangers came into Friday’s contest averaging 45 points a game, with last week’s 31-point effort to beat Bloom-Carroll their lowest output.
“It was a total team effort. I know I say that a lot and it sounds like coach speak, but to hang a zero on the offense that we faced is just an incredible accomplishment,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said “Our defensive staff did a great job putting a game plan together. But game plans don’t mean anything if you don’t go out and execute.
“The way that our kids came out and fought and just played flat-out physical was the difference in the game.”
The Braves made a statement to open the game taking their first possession 73 yards on eight plays with Thompson scoring from 40 yards out.
“Landon, the last couple of weeks, has been running like a man possessed,” Holbert said. “He’s never falling backwards, he’ll get hit, he’ll move through contact and he’s getting an extra two, three, maybe more yards with every carry. That’s hugely impactful in keeping drives alive.”
HT’s first was a three-and-out with a short punt, the second ended when Eplin had an interception, and the third ended with Cameron Smith recovering a fumble.
LE wasn’t able to take advantage of the first two stops but followed the fumble recovery with a quick drive that had Bock scoring on a 33-yard pass play.
HT finally put a drive together using 14 plays to get as close as the LE 4-yard line before turning it over on downs late in the second quarter.
HT had the ball to start the second half but fumbled on the second play and LE’s Keegan Diehl recovered.
LE ran 11 plays to cover 52 yards with Thompson capping the drive with a four-yard run.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Joshua Hunter intercepted an HT pass and LE covered 80 yards in seven plays.
Thompson grabbed 23 on one of the plays, Hunter Kersey picked up 37 on a pass from Walters and Thompson finished it with a seven-yard scoring run.
Now the Braves head into the playoffs with league champion as part of their list of accomplishments.
“This is a tribute to (the seniors) What they have gone through and steadily each year gotten better and gotten better,” Holbert said. “This is a culmination of their work and their leadership.”
While the official playoff matchups will be released by the OHSAA on Sunday, joeeitel.com lists the Braves as having locked in the fourth seed in Division IV, Region 15 and has them hosting Indian Valley from Gnadenhutten next week.
Indian Valley is 7-3 overall and went 5-2 in the Inter-Valley Conference.
Logan Elm 28, Hamilton Township 0
By Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Hamilton Twp 0 0 0 0 0
Logan Elm 7 6 8 7 28
LE — Landon Thompson 40 run (Maggie Wilson kick), 7:44.
LE — Michael Bock 33 pass from Aaron Walters (kick failed), 9:12.
LE — Landon Thompson 4 run (Cameron Smith from Aaron Walters), 5:32.
LE — Landon Thompson 7 run (Dawsen Hudson kick), 8:11.
First downs 7 20
Rushing yards 30-121 43-244
Passing yards 83 132
Comp.-Att.-Int 10-19-2 10-16-0
Total yards 204 376
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-35 4-40
RUSHING – Hamilton Township — Nadir Langston 20-70, Josh Woods 3-16, Kal-El Beverly-Akin 6-37. Logan Elm — Michael Bock 12-50, Landon Thompson 28-197, Aaron Walters 3-(-3)
PASSING – Hamilton Township — Josh Woods 5-18-2-83, Nadir Langston 0-1-0-0. Logan Elm — Aaron Walters 10-6-0-132.
RECEIVING – Hamilton Township — Nadir Langston 3-17, Jovon McBride 4-49, AJ Cain-Jackson 1-13, Brady Holt 2-4. Logan Elm — Landon Thompson 1-9, Michael Bock 1-33, Carson Summers 1-7, Cameron Smith 1-7, Camden Redd 3-25, Hunter Kersey 3-51.