LOGAN — There are times when you simply have to step back, give credit where credit is due and appreciate the talent of an opponent.
Such was the case Friday night in Logan Chieftain Stadium, where the Zanesville Blue Devils scored 34 unanswered points in the first half to overcome an early deficit and deal the host Logan Chieftains a 44-14 setback.
“Tonight, the matchup was just not in our favor,” said Logan coach Mike Eddy. “They took advantage of some places where we were weakened. That’s a great football team.”
Zanesville (6-1) got a tremendous passing performance from senior quarterback Ben Everson, who completed 26-of-35 passes for 385 yards — 316 in the first half alone — and three touchdowns.
And he had a terrific array of receivers to choose from, all of whom were quick, athletic and outright fast.
Everson, who threw a few big-yardage bombs while actually throwing off his back foot, had receivers who often sprinted past Logan defensive backs like they were standing still.
And by no means is that a cutdown of the Chieftains (2-5). Zanesville’s QB and receivers were simply the best such combination the Purple & White have seen in a number of years.
“Against a quality opponent like this, you can’t afford a single mistake,” said Eddy. “I don’t know how many times a (Logan) guy is playing deep coverage and he gets ran by by a guy who’s a whole lot faster than him... that’s something you just can’t simulate in practice. You can’t simulate speed.
“That was advantage them tonight,” he added. “They had guys who played really well in space and we had difficulties even being able to catch up to them. And their running backs ran hard and never went down on the first tackle... so it was one of those games where there’s not a whole lot you can say: they played better than we did tonight.”
Senior Jeremiah Norman caught nine passes for 190 yards, junior Casey Cassell also hauled in nine aerials for 84 yards, and each caught a touchdown pass.
And yet, the Chiefs didn’t play all that bad. They scored just 35 seconds into the game — quite easily, as a matter of fact — and after Zanesville answered that score to draw even, Logan came back to knock on the door inside the Zanesville 10-yard line — set up by a 64-yard pass from Braeden Spatar to Garrett Mace — but fumbled the ball away on the very next play.
The Blue Devils, who scored 34 unanswered points in the first half, took full advantage as the Chiefs lost four fumbles.
“Defensively we were kind of caught in limbo,” Eddy noted. “When we started early in the game they took three, four shots over the top of us and that was there, so we would back our guys up a little bit and try to bring a little more pressure. The pressure was effective — they weren’t picking up our pressure at all — but now because we’re backed up in the secondary, (Everson is) throwing off his back foot and the ball still has time to get there by the time we rally up. They were just picking us apart going down the field.
“We did some things well early,” he added, “but we also did some things really poorly early.”
Things sure started out well for the Chiefs.
Jonny McClelland returned the opening kickoff 58 yards to the Zanesville 32-yard line and, three plays later, the Chiefs — specifically, Caden McCarty — were in the end zone.
Ian Frasure ran a reverse for seven yards, McCarty picked up 13 and then went around left end to score almost untouched from 12 yards out for a 7-0 Logan lead just 35 seconds into the game after freshman Zach Chapin booted the extra point.
But Zanesville would score on what amounted to five-consecutive possessions to finish out the first half to take a 34-7 advantage into the locker room at the intermission.
And by the time the game was over, the Chieftains had a number of walking wounded, including McCarty — the team’s leading rusher on the season — who was knocked out on a helmet-to-helmet tackle on an early second-quarter running play.
He was able to come out and root his teammates on in the second half, but all he could do was watch. His status for the rest of the season will have to be determined. McClelland was also hurt later in the game.
“By the time this game was over we were down two defensive backs, an offensive lineman and a D-tackle,” Eddy said. “And so now moving forward that’s going to be the big thing, seeing in the morning who is healthy and who’s not, who’s going to be able to play next week or the rest of the year. We just don’t know.
“We might be back to the drawing board a little bit just because of the injuries,” he added. “We had talked earlier in the week about how blessed we had been to be healthy this deep into the season... and it was a perfect storm tonight.”
Everson led scoring drives of six plays (53 yards), five plays (79 yards), 16 plays (92 yards), nine plays (67 yards) and seven plays (72 yards), throwing an 11-yard TD pass to Cassell and a 10-yarder to Taysean Simpson — the latter with under 15 seconds left in the half — and Tristan Banks, Everson and Jordan Martin all capped off scoring drives with running touchdowns.
And even the one time the Chiefs stopped the Blue Devils in the first half, Zanesville got the right ball back and continued on its merry way toward the end zone.
Logan’s Nick Anderson picked off an Everson screen pass but the ball was knocked away from him on the tackle and the Blue Devils recovered, with Everson then completing 7-of-8 passes to drive the visitors from the Zanesville 28 to paydirt in the latter seconds.
The Chiefs got one touchdown back with 1:11 left in the third period when Spatar connected with fellow senior Colten Castle on a short slant that Castle and turned into a 60-yard catch-and-run score.
But Zanesville simply got it back two plays later on an Everson-to-Norman 56-yard scoring bomb with under 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Gabe Dolen kicked a 20-yard field goal with 9:46 left in the game for a 30-point Zanesville lead and beginning the running clock rule.
“I thought the coaching staff continued to coach hard and try to make adjustments,” Eddy said. “We mixed up what we were doing offensively to try and give us some advantage here and there, and at times when we took care of the football we could move it. We did some nice things.
“I thought we had a pretty good game plan going into the second half,” he added, then “two plays in we got a guy hurt and now we’re down a DB (and) we don’t have anybody else to put in, so we had to go right back to plan A.”
The Logan defense forced Zanesville to punt after a couple three-and-outs to open the second half before getting that Spatar-to-Castle TD.
“We kind of poked the bear a little bit because I think they were content to run the football and get out of here,” Eddy said. “But, like a lot of teams, they weren’t able to run the football on us. We were stopping them and getting the ball back and we scored on one of them. (Zanesville) then puts its spread team back out there and they go back to work.
“We made the comment (earlier in the week) that if you look at week one vs. now, this is a different football team,” he continued, “and I think our kids did prove that tonight. We continued to play hard all the way to the end. We played as hard as we could play from start to finish. We were still grinding, still trying to do good things, we were still being coachable. They did all the right things.”
How good of a football team the Chieftains will be the rest of the way (home with Meigs next week, at Maysville in week nine and their season finale at home against Hamilton Township in week 10) now may very well depend upon how healthy they will be.
“Janelle (trainer Janelle Jones) will be in there evaluating those guys tonight and we’ll see them first thing in the morning,” Eddy said. “Based on where we are, then we’ll start trying to formulate a plan moving forward.
“We have to move on from here. We have to show up in the morning and get back to work,” he continued. “We have some very winnable games in our future.”
The Chiefs, who had a two-game winning streak snapped, had developed a taste for winning.
“Almost every one of these kids, to a man after the game,” Eddy said, “were still focused and were like ‘tomorrow’s a work day.’ Three or four guys came over and gave me a hug and said ‘coach, we’re not done.’ These kids understand what winning is, and I am proud of what they have done throughout the course of this year to learn that… and because they’ve learned what winning is, they want to continue to do that. They understand they’re going to have opportunities to do that.
“But right now,” he added, “the big thing for us is to evaluate where we are with our depth chart and try to get guys in the best position to be successful next week, then come back out and go to work.”
Zanesville 44, Logan 14
Zanesville 13 21 7 3 44
Logan 7 0 7 0 14
L: Caden McCarty 12 run (Zach Chapin kick), 11:25, 1Q
Z: Casey Cassell 11 pass from Ben Everson (Gabe Dolen kick), 9:09, 1Q
Z: Tristan Banks 3 run (pass failed), 5:07, 1Q
Z: Everson 1 run (Dolen kick), 9:27, 2Q
Z: Jordan Martin 10 run (Dolen kick), 3:15, 2Q
Z: Taysean Simpson 10 pass from Everson (Dolen kick), 0:14.7, 2Q
L: Colten Castle 60 pass from Braeden Spatar (Chapin kick), 1:11, 3Q
Z: Jeremiah Norman 56 pass from Everson (Dolen kick), 0:19.4, 3Q
Z: Dolen 20 field goal, 9:46, 4Q
Team Statistics Z L
First Downs 22 10
Offensive Plays 63 40
Rushes-Yards 27-98 35-110
Passing Yards 387 140
Total Yards 485 250
Passes 27-36-1 3-5-0
Punts-Avg. 3-35.7 5-27.2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 4-4
Penalties-Yards 5-51 1-15
Possession 28:29 19:31
Rushing — Zanesville: Jordan Martin 10-40 1 TD, Ben Everson 7-36 1 TD, Julius Murphy 6-21, Jeremiah Norman 1-6, Tristan Banks 1-3 1 TD, Jeremiah Miller 1-(-6), team 1-(-2). Logan: Caden McCarty 8-39 1 TD, Jared Justice 9-34, Traten Poling 2-13, Ian Frasure 2-12, Braeden Spatar 10-9, Colton Ruff 1-6, Trace Sigafoose 1-2, team 2-(-5).
Passing — Zanesville: Ben Everson 26-35-1—385 3 TD, Jeremiah Miller 1-1-0—2. Logan: Braeden Spatar 3-5-0—140 1 TD.
Receiving — Zanesville: Jeremiah Norman 9-190 1 TD, Casey Cassell 9-84 1 TD, Jamal Wiggins 3-50, Julius Murphy 3-25, Taysean Simpson 2-27 1 TD, Jordan Martin 1-11. Logan: Garrett Mace 1-64, Colten Castle 1-60 1 TD, Traten Poling 1-16.