LOGAN — A bobble, a bust-out and a bounce off the crossbar.
In a nutshell, that’s how Teays Valley edged host Logan 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 hit 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.”
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.
“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.
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 Vikings travel to Canal Winchester (2-0) next week.