LOGAN — A bobble, a bust-out and a bounce off the crossbar.
In a nutshell, that’s how the Teays Valley Vikings edged the Logan Chieftains 10-7 in a thrilling non-league football contest Friday night in Logan Chieftain Stadium... but oh, the full explanation goes much deeper.
While the Chiefs dominated in just about every way, they were on the receiving end of two really bad bounces.
“We knew (the Chiefs) were big and we were mismatched on the lines, so we knew that special teams would probably win this game. That was on our scouting report,” Teays Valley coach Mark Weber said. “Special teams had all 10 points tonight.”
And those 10 points proved to be just enough as the Vikings (2-0) defeated the Chieftains (0-2) for a fourth-straight time.
A 24-yard field goal by freshman Cale Clifton with 9:38 left in the second quarter, set up by a Clayton Knox 27-yard interception return and a subsequent 15-yard penalty on the Chiefs, pulled the Vikings within 7-3.
Logan had taken the lead — for the first time in nearly a year — on an 11-yard scoring run by Caden McCarty late in the opening period. His TD, which capped a 10-play, 82-yard drive, put the Chiefs ahead for the first time since their last victory, a 45-35 win in week three last season at Meigs.
It was thus 7-3 as Logan kicked off to start the second half.
When Israel Bookman’s boot bounded toward TV’s Chance Littler at the 8-yard line, he bobbled it forward to the 12, where the Chiefs smelled loose-ball blood like a shark in the water.
As the Chieftains raced toward the bouncing ball, Littler picked it up at the 12-yard line, found an opening and broke loose for an 88-yard kickoff return TD that would ultimately turn out to be the game-winning score. After Clifton kicked the extra point, neither team scored again.
“Whenever you see a loose ball on special teams,” Logan coach Mike Eddy said, “that’s a horns-up moment because one school’s band is about to play. A lot of times on that bust it ends up being the team that bobbled (the ball) that makes that bust.
“Our guys see that ball rolling around on the ground, they break out of their (coverage) lanes a little bit and they’re ready to make a play on that ball,” he continued. “All of a sudden (Littler) scoops it up and there’s an alley. That’s so common (on such a play), and it’s unfortunate.”
“Man, that was a battle,” a relieved Weber said. “Statistically I’m sure they beat us in everything other than special teams.”
In a game where the Chiefs absolutely dominated time of possession (32 minutes to 16), total yardage (267-72), offensive plays (63-31) and first downs (19-5), among other statistical categories — and had a pair of 100-yard rushers in McCarty (110) and quarterback Braeden Spatar (104) — Logan only had the ball for two lengthy second-half possessions that came up empty.
A 14-play drive that lasted over eight minutes in the third quarter ended when Spatar was sacked by the Vikings’ Tristan McDanel at the TV 36.
Then, after a short TV punt early in the final period, the Chiefs again went 14 plays from their own 22 to the Teays Valley 19 with just over three minutes remaining.
A great 18-yard scramble by Spatar and huge first down-gaining receptions by Colten Castle and Garrett Mace keeping the drive alive.
The drive stalled and Bookman came on to attempt a potential game-tying 36-yard field goal. His kick was right down the middle but doinked off the crossbar and fell harmlessly into the end zone.
Teays Valley then attempted to run out the clock and, after a terrific run by McDanel looked like it was good for a first down at the TV 30-yard line, it was marked inches short of the stripe.
The Vikings decided to go for the game-clinching first down.
“We’re in fourth and inches from our quarterback having a great run and we said, ‘you know what? Let’s go get the win,’ ” Weber said. “And if we don’t get it, let’s play defense and we’ll stop them again.”
“We were right there right up until the very end, right up until that last fourth-down play,” Eddy said. “They were going to do one of two things: they were going to hard-count you and call a timeout, or they were going to Q (quarterback) sneak it. It was less than a yard for a first down and it’s really tough to stop that with that kind of surge coming at you.”
The surge by the TV offensive line was enough for McDanel to cross the 30-yard line to the 32. The Viking QB then took a knee on the last two plays out of victory formation to run out the clock.
The heart-wrenching loss marked Logan’s ninth-consecutive defeat, tying a school record.
“Wow, that’s probably one of the most exciting games I’ve coached in in the last three years,” Weber said. “We’ve won two games now in the fourth quarter (the Vikings blanked Chillicothe 14-0 in their season opener last week) and I like that attribute because they can see now that they’ve won in the fourth quarter.
“If we don’t win this, the mind-set is different,” he added. “This group is gritty and they fight to the end. That came down to seconds, didn’t it?”
It sure did.
And coach Eddy, after a brief but emotional post-game speech to his charges, had tears of pride in his eyes as Logan players came up and hugged him afterward.
“Win or lose, right there that was actually the first step,” said Logan’s first-year mentor. “The first step was playing as hard as you could play from start to finish. Becoming a winner isn’t about winning every game you play: it’s about how you play that game, and those guys played their hearts out.
“They played for each other. There was no selfishness,” he added. “We had maximum effort. Everybody did their job to the best of their ability from start to finish. Yes, we had miscues (10 penalties for 86 yards) and yes, we did some things wrong, but that’s how you learn how to win right there by playing in games like this and not giving up.”
As the new Chieftain coach has said for weeks, getting the football program moving in the right direction is not a week-to-week process.
“Absolutely. There’s no doubt about it,” Eddy said. “I’m so proud of these kids tonight. It’s easy to say, oh, here the Chieftains go again, they’re 0-2, but I tell you what: that’s a different 0-2 effort right there. That’s not a normal loss right there. That’s a group of guys that are starting to figure this thing out.
“If they will stay the course and continue to give great effort every day, continue to improve and play like that, we’re going to end up being a pretty good football team by the time this year’s over,” he added.
Weber’s team is pretty good right now but he admitted it’s a long season.
“Our guys had belief,” he said. “They didn’t play to lose it, they played to win it.
“It’s week-to-week,” he added. “Confidence can be high one week and confidence can get low the next. It’s a 10-week season and you can never be too high and never be too low. You need to have a workman’s mentality that we have to get work.”
Weber was happy that his team got a win against a larger team, but admitted they paid a physical price to leave Hocking County with their second victory.
“We’re going to have to heal up,” Weber revealed. “Logan was way bigger than us and they were down blocking hard and our short little skinny guys were in there grinding and fighting.”
The Chiefs certainly deserved a better fate, both offensively and defensively, coming off last week’s season-opening loss at Tri-Valley.
“I thought our defense played pretty well all night,” Eddy said. “The offense had moments of consistency, which is something we hadn’t seen out of them. Tonight we were able to run the ball, we were able to gain three, four yards at a clip, (and) late in the game we were able to protect and throw a little bit, which we couldn’t do early, so that got a little bit better.”
The Chiefs will have their work cut out for them next week when they visit Jackson to renew a rivalry between the two longtime Southeastern Ohio Athletic League foes. The Ironmen (2-0) edged Athens (0-2), another future Logan opponent, 31-26 Friday night.
“These kids just keep improving,” Eddy said, “and as long as we can keep their heart and soul and their minds on each other, we’re just going to keep on getting better. I don’t have any complaints as far as the way we played. I thought we played pretty well. We gave up one, and sometimes that’s what gets you.”
Teays Valley 10, Logan 7
TV 0 3 7 0 10
Logan 7 0 0 0 7
L: Caden McCarty 11 run (Israel Bookman kick), 2:48, 1Q
TV: Cale Clifton 24 field goal, 9:38, 2Q
TV: Chance Littler 88 kickoff return (Clifton kick), 11:40, 3Q
Team Statistics T L
First Downs 5 19
Offensive Plays 31 63
Rushes-Yards 24-64 50-202
Passing Yards 8 65
Total Yards 72 267
Passes 2-7-0 10-13-1
Punts-Avg. 4-31.8 3-14.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 8-45 10-86
Possession 15:59 32:01
Rushing — Teays Valley: Tristan McDanel 17-46, Chance Littler 4-24, Clayton Knox 1-(-2), team 2-(-4). Logan: Caden McCarty 24-110 1 TD, Braeden Spatar 26-104, team 0-(-12).
Passing — Teays Valley: Tristan McDanel 2-7-0—8. Logan: Braeden Spatar 9-11-1—65, Ian Frasure 1-2-0—0.
Receiving — Teays Valley: Camden Primmer 1-6, Clayton Knox 1-2. Logan: Garrett Mace 5-32, Colten Castle 2-5, Traten Poling 1-13, Colton Ruff 1-14, Caden McCarty 1-1.