A week after giving up a staggering 571 yards of total offense in a 48-13 loss to Waverly, Amanda-Clearcreek knew it needed to get better on defense.
“Our kids have been great all week, beginning last Saturday when the seniors came in, led the way and owned what happened against Waverly,” Amanda-Clearcreek coach Steve Daulton said. “Our kids were receptive to things we showed them on film that we had to improve on and they followed that up with a great week of practice.”
And that preparation shined through on Friday when the Aces defeated visiting Bloom-Carroll 21-14 in a Mid-State League Buckeye Division game.
The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 40.5 points, but were held to their second fewest points scored in a game so far this season.
“We knew that we were facing another very potent offense and our kids didn’t want a repeat of Waverly,” Daulton said. “Our kids flew to the football and played with tremendous effort, which can take care of a lot of things.”
Amanda-Clearcreek erased the big play that plagued it a week ago and made Bloom-Carroll one-dimensional by taking away its running game, as the Bulldogs ran for just 59 yards on 21 carries.
Bloom-Carroll quarterback Otto Kuhns completed 23 of 31 passes for 183 yards, with his longest completion going for 25 yards.
“We talked to the kids about keeping them in front of us and cutting down the big plays that just plagued us last week,” Daulton said. “With Otto Kuhns, people obviously look at Bloom-Carroll’s passing game, but they’ve had quite a bit of success of running the football this season.
“I was proud of the way our kids stepped up, played physical and won that battle at the line of scrimmage, really on both sides of the football.”
The Aces opened the evening with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that lasted over half of the first quarter.
Jesse Connell started a big night with six carries for 39 yards on the drive, including a three-yard touchdown run to put the Aces ahead 6-0.
Bloom-Carroll countered early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs used a 25-yard pass from Kuhns to Evan Willet to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Hobie Scarberry four plays later to take a 7-6 lead, following the extra point by Cameron Shirkey.
The Aces responded with a 15-play drive that went for 64 yards and drained nearly eight minutes from the clock.
Connell grounded out 27 yards on the drive that quarterback Peyton Madison capped with a one-yard keeper. The two-point conversion toss from Jayse Miller to Jeffrey Bolin gave the Aces a 14-7 lead, which they took into halftime.
Bloom-Carroll tied the game in the third quarter, converting a pair of fourth downs along the way with passes of eight-yards from Kuhns to Willet and an eight-yard connection by Kuhns to Branyon Dodds.
Kuhns closed the 16-play, 66-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Eli Coppess.
The Bulldogs lost two costly fumbles in the fourth quarter. The first was recovered by Madison on the A-C 26-yard line and ran clear back to Bloom-Carroll’s 17-yard line.
The Aces scored three plays later on an eight-yard run by Madison to take a 21-14 lead, after the PAT by Jonathan Weaver, with 4:05 remaining.
Bloom-Carroll drove down to the A-C 27 on its ensuing possession, but Connell recovered the second fumble of the quarter.
“Our defense stepped up and got a couple of huge turnovers in the fourth quarter that made the difference in the game,” Daulton said.
The Aces ran out the final 2:20 to hand the defending MSL-Buckeye co-champion Bulldogs their first setback inside the league this season.
Amanda-Clearcreek controlled the line of scrimmage and rushed for 244 of its 296 yards of total offense by averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Connell consumed 139 yards on 26 carries, Madison covered 71 yards on 20 totes and Miller added 34 yards on seven carries.
“Jesse stepped up and ran the football hard,” Daulton said. “That’s the thing about our team where we’ve had a senior step up in every game and help carry the load.
“I know Jesse and the rest of our guys would give a lot of credit to our offensive line, which has continued to gel together and is doing a better job of controlling the line of scrimmage and being physical.”
Madison was 7 of 9 passing for 52 yards.
The Aces (5-1, 2-0) continue league play next week at Circleville (1-5, 1-1) and the Bulldogs (4-2, 2-1) step outside of league play for the final time this season when they host Meadowbrook (2-4).