PORTSMOUTH — Without throwing a single pass or attempting a single run from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Caleb Lewellen managed the Logan Chieftains to a much-needed football victory Friday night.
Senior tailback Cory McCarty turned in a monster game for a Logan team that was playing without three injured starters in its Southeastern Ohio Athletic League opener at Portsmouth, rushing for 270 yards and three touchdowns as the Purple & White broke into the victory column with a 34-13 victory over the Trojans at Trojan Coliseum.
Having lost starting quarterback Jack Music due to concussion symptoms earlier in the week, the Logan coaching staff put Lewellen behind center and asked him to manage the game while riding McCarty and the Chieftain defense.
The strategy worked to near-perfection. The Chiefs (1-5 overall, 1-0 SEOAL) had the ball for nearly 30 minutes on offense, didn’t commit a single turnover, and, after the first half, shut out a Portsmouth offense that gained more than 450 yards last week against Ironton.
Lewellen’s job was to take the snap, hand the ball to McCarty or Nick Kost, and keep a close eye on the play clock. Oftentimes, the sophomore ran the play clock down to the last two or three seconds before handing off as McCarty or Kost (72 yards) broke off big chunks of yardage.
All of Logan’s 348 total yards thus came by land, none by air.
“We talked about not giving up on each other and still believing in what we’re trying to do,” said Logan coach Kelly Wolfe, whose team broke a nine-game losing streak dating back to last season. “It’s a clean slate (in the league).
“We looked at all the different scenarios and felt this was the best one with Caleb in there,” he continued. “We felt that everybody else would have to do a little bit more. We put the pressure on everybody; we weren’t asking Caleb to do anything spectacular. He did an awesome job tonight.”
McCarty — whose 270 yards (on 39 carries) ties for the sixth-best single-game rushing performance in LHS history — agreed.
“We had a lot of people step in tonight, especially (Lewellen),” praised the senior tailback, who gained 212 yards and scored four touchdowns against the Trojans two seasons ago as a sophomore. “He hasn’t been in very much and he did great. It was the best we’ve played all year.”
Everything was in place this week for the Chiefs to fold the tent on their 2012 football season. They were 0-5. They were missing three starters (Music, Isaac Schmeltzer and Donnie Stevens), and they had been drubbed 50-0 last week by Nelsonville-York.
But they refused to do so.
“We took everything serious,” said McCarty, who touched the ball on all but 14 of the Chiefs’ 53 plays from scrimmage, including a couple direct snaps from wildcat formation. “The whole bus ride (to Portsmouth) there was a little joking around, but basically we got our minds set and got ready to play.”
For the first time this season, the Chiefs came out focused from the opening kickoff and didn’t let off the gas pedal the rest of the night.
“Finally!” Wolfe exclaimed. “We finally put it all together.”
Oddly enough, the Logan defense caught more passes (two) than the Chieftain offense (zero)… and that worked out just fine, thank you.
With the Chiefs leading 14-7 — McCarty broke a 52-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game then, after Portsmouth scored on a Brandon Wedebrook-to-Alex Dickerson 38-yard TD aerial, McCarty went 42 yards to paydirt on a fourth-and-3 carry around right end — the Chiefs’ Dean Jordan pinned the Trojans (1-5, 0-1) deep in their own territory with a punt.
With the ball on their own 15, the Trojans elected to set up a screen pass.
Quarterback Wedebrook backpeddled into his own end zone. He badly under-threw his intended receiver and Chieftain nose guard Allen Mulford picked it off on the Portsmouth 4-yard line and waltzed into the end zone for an easy touchdown to make it 20-7 with 2:47 left in the first half.
The Trojans pulled within 20-13 at halftime when Wedebrook connected with Dickerson for a second touchdown pass, this one for 21 yards.
Portsmouth then took the opening kickoff to start the third period and drove to the Logan 1-yard line and went for a potential game-tying touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
Portsmouth running back Johnie Charles went around right end and defensive back Nick Maniskas blew up the play, throwing Charles for a 1-yard loss to give Logan the ball on downs.
“The offense was working well and the defense made some big stops when we needed them,” Wolfe said. “They had fourth-and-goal and we made a big play.”
The Chiefs then set about upon a game-sealing 98-yard touchdown drive, consuming the last 6:11 of the third period and the first 10 seconds of the final stanza before McCarty scored on a 2-yard run off left tackle to cap off a 14-play drive.
“That was all part of the mind-set going in,” Wolfe revealed. “We wanted to run the ball (and) slow the game down. I was watching the clock with every play I called. We cut the game plan in half. We had pass plays put in, but we figured (the Trojans) would do what they did last year, go 5-3 man-to-man (defense) and cover our best three guys with their three best athletes and (make Logan) run the ball.”
That the Chiefs did, almost to perfection.
When Portsmouth was penalized half the distance to the goal on the ensuing PAT kick, the Chiefs took out the kicking team and sent the offense back onto the field. McCarty then ran for a 2-point conversion to make it 28-13.
Portsmouth then muffed the squib kickoff and Justin Moore recovered at the PHS 29.
From there, the Chiefs needed only four plays to score, with Kost tallying on a 2-yard run with 9:55 remaining to make it 34-13.
Down 21 points, the Trojans were forced to throw the ball and quickly reached Chieftain territory. However, on fourth-and-18, Nick Maniskas out-jumped a Portsmouth receiver for an interception at the Logan 6-yard line with 8:06 remaining.
That ultimately put the lid on the Chiefs’ first win because, from there, they stuck to the game plan, kept the ball on the ground, and churned out four first downs on 12 plays — converting four-straight third down plays in the process — to, incredibly, run out the clock.
“They’re driving late and Nick gets that interception,” Wolfe lauded.
“We felt we could run the ball here and that’s what we hung our hat on,” he continued. “We didn’t throw one pass (and) we weren’t going to. Nothing against Caleb, but we felt that’s what we wanted to do, and our defense held them at bay. Once we got up, we needed to shut down (Dickerson), we knew they were going to attack the perimeter and our defense did a good job of slowing them down and making them work for everything.”
“They came down here and played pretty much mistake-free football,” Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford said. “Very few penalties until there at the end.”
The Chiefs rode McCarty to a 31-28 win in Trojan Coliseum two years ago, but last year his season came to a premature end when he was hurt in the next-to-last game against, ironically, Portsmouth.
“I had to make up for that,” McCarty said with a smile.
“He was the horse going in,” Wolfe said. “My prayers were that tomorrow’s newspaper would say that ‘McCarty has monster game’ because I knew that’s what we were going to commit to.”
Consider it done, coach.
“We’re going to keep this stuff in,” he continued. “We had six pass plays (scripted as needed) tonight and simplified our game, (run off) left tackle, right tackle, all night and made sure our line knew what they were going to do and make everything as simple as possible so they could play as fast as possible.”
According to Logan football historian Spencer Waugh, the last time the Chiefs didn’t throw a single pass in a game was in 1999 against River Valley. Before that, it happened three other times: against Pomeroy in 1958, Athens in 1957, and Wellston in 1939.
So the Chiefs indeed made some history, and look to make some more in the next few weeks.
With Jackson beating Warren 36-26 Friday night, the Chiefs’ game at Jackson next Friday is an early showdown for the conference lead.
As far as the Chiefs are concerned, it’s indeed a new season.
“On the sidelines you could see it and feel it,” Wolfe said. “There was a lot more confidence out there tonight.”
Chiefs 34, Trojans 13
Logan 7 13 0 14—34
Portsmouth 7 6 0 0—13
L: Cory McCarty 52 run (Dominick Stevens kick), 9:20, 1Q
P: Alex Dickerson 38 pass from Brandon Wedebrook (Zach Delotell kick), 6:42, 1Q
L: McCarty 42 run (Stevens kick), 8:00, 2Q
L: Allen Mulford 4 interception return (kick failed), 2:47, 2Q
P: Dickerson 21 pass from Wedebrook (kick failed), 1:18, 2Q
L: McCarty 2 run (McCarty run), 11:50, 4Q
L: Nick Kost 2 run (kick failed), 9:55, 4Q
First Downs: L 18, P 13
Offensive Plays: L 53, P 41
Rushes-Yards: L 53-348, P 26-119
Passing Yards: L 0, P 159
Total Yards: L 348, P 278
Passes: Logan 0-0-0, P 7-15-2
Punts-Avg.: L 2-34.5, P 1-23
Fumbles-Lost: L 1-0, P 2-1
Penalties-Yards: L 5-46, P 6-35
Possession: L 29:54, P 18:06
Rushing: Logan, Cory McCarty 39-270, Nick Kost 11-72, Austin Scarberry 3-6; Portsmouth, Johnie Charles 13-83, Brandon Wedebrook 9-25, Alex Dickerson 4-11
Passing: Logan, Caleb Lewellen 0-0-0—0; Portsmouth, Brandon Wedebrook 7-15-2-—158
Receiving: Logan, none; Portsmouth, Alex Dickerson 3-91, Khalil Lattimore 2-50, Isiaha Lisath 1-11, Sky Oliver 1-7
Team SEOAL All
LOGAN 1-0 1-5
Gallipolis 1-0 4-2
Jackson 1-0 3-3
Warren 0-1 2-4
Chillicothe 0-1 1-5
Portsmouth 0-1 1-5
Nelsonville-York — 4-2
Jonathan Alder — 3-3
Northland — 3-3
Lancaster — 2-4
Newark — 1-5
Logan 34, Portsmouth 13
Gallipolis 20, Chillicothe 7
Jackson 36, Warren 26
Lancaster 35, Groveport 34
Northland 20, Col. East 14
Grove City 34, Newark 14
Cin. Winton Woods 35, Jonathan Alder 14
Nelsonville-York 54, Meigs 8
Friday, Oct. 5
Logan at Jackson
Warren at Chillicothe
Portsmouth at Gallipolis
Lancaster at Gahanna
Northland at Centennial
Newark at Groveport
Day. Thurgood Marshall at Jonathan Alder
Nelsonville-York at Wellston