Mike Marshall and his Buckeye Valley Barons remembered last year’s overtime loss at Mount Gilead very well, and were eager to erase that memory.
The Barons did so with a solid defense, another strong passing night from senior quarterback Kevan Green, and a late touchdown on a fake punt that helped Buckeye Valley slip by the visiting Indians for a 30-20 Homecoming win in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference action Friday at Baron Field.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Mount Gilead, because their kids played hard and coach (Steve) Ringer is a good coach, but there was really never a situation where were weren’t comfortable in the game,” Marshall said. “Even when it was 14-7, we were in a position where we knew we could move the football and were confident we could stop things, and it’s nice we could do it on Homecoming.”
Buckeye Valley (5-3, 4-3 MOAC Red) did much of its work on defense and in the first half. The Barons held Mount Gilead (4-4, 3-4 MOAC Blue) to just 16 plays and 39 yards of offense.
On the other side of the ball, Buckeye Valley held the football for nearly 17 of the first 24 minutes, ran 40 plays and racked up 215 yards of total offense, including 137 yards through the air.
Green completed 12 of 21 passes in the game for 188 yards and two touchdowns, completing passes to six different receivers, including the five players from the Barons’ “speed package” — junior Will Crecelius (three catches, 41 yards), senior Ben Stakely (2-48), and juniors Shawn Free (2-31), Jack Kelly (1-36) and Caleb Green (1-8).
“Kevan had another good night,” Marshall said. “He threw the ball very well, and we used our speed. We try to get the five fastest people on the field, and all five run the 40 in 4.7 seconds or faster. We ran the ball a few times with it tonight, but it also allowed us to spread the defense out a little bit.”
Buckeye Valley struck first in the first quarter off the first of two interceptions by senior linebacker Juston Koss, when Green capped the nine play, 62-yard drive with a perfect 24-yard touchdown pass to Free, who caught the ball to the right side of a Mount Gilead defender.
The Barons then capitalized on another Indian mistake. A low snap hit Mount Gilead quarterback Justin Carver’s legs and bounced away, and sophomore defensive lineman Logan Dziak recovered at the Indians’ 28-yard line.
Caleb Green scored from two-yards out with 11:16 left in the second quarter to end the Barons’ subsequent eight-play drive, putting the Barons ahead 14-0.
But Mount Gilead got on the board on a Buckeye Valley fumble. After a first quarter deluge, and with the Barons in the wildcat formation, the snap slipped through the hands of Caleb Green and rolled to the Barons’ 41-yard line, where Carver scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone with 8:33 left in the half.
That would be all the Indians would get in the first half, but Buckeye Valley would tack another three on the board just before halftime. Senior kicker Mason Long, who narrowly missed a 45-yard field goal earlier, connected from 38 yards with five seconds left, giving the Barons a 17-7 halftime lead.
The third quarter began with a bizarre turn, as Mount Gilead fumbled the ball away on its second play from scrimmage, only to get the ball back on a Baron fumble on the very next play.
The Indians then drove the ball to their own 48, but on first and 10, Carver was picked off again by Koss, who returned the ball nine yards back to the Mount Gilead 48.
Four plays later, on third down and nine, Kevan Green found Kelly, who escaped his defender for a 36-yard touchdown with 7:13 left in the period, giving Buckeye Valley a 23-7 lead after three quarters.
But the Indians were determined to get into the end zone. Mount Gilead took over late in the third and marched to the Barons’ one-yard line. At the start the fourth, Carver was stopped on two tries at a quarterback sneak, but scored on his third to cut the deficit to 23-13.
Mount Gilead took over again after a Baron punt on their next drive and used almost six minutes of clock to score again, with Carver again needing three tries to get his second one-yard touchdown with 2:46 left.
Following an onside kick, the Barons drove to the Indians’ 29, but faced fourth down and seven. Marshall sent the punt team out, but the direct snap went instead to sophomore Colin Schwartz, who sprinted around the right side for a 29-yard touchdown with eight seconds to play, sealing the win.
“It’s one of those things you don’t think they’ll expect, and obviously, they didn’t,” Marshall said. “In my first year here, North Union did the same thing to us, so you learn some things over the years, and it worked out.”
Caleb Green topped the Buckeye Valley rushers with 93 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, including a 56-yard run on the Barons’ first play from scrimmage. Schwartz was next with his one carry, 29 yards and a score, while Kevan Green added 16 yards on seven carries.
Carver topped all rushers with 106 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns, including a 59-yard run on the Indians’ last scoring drive. Carver also completed 9 of 19 passes for 96 yards, but was picked twice. Payton Vanderkooi and Michael Bland had three catches apiece for Mount Gilead, Vanderkooi for 64 yards and Bland for 19 yards.