John Bruce, Contributor
FRANKFORT — If a true test of a team’s character is how they react without one of its leaders, then the Paint Valley Bearcats passed that test with flying colors Friday night.
Halfway through the third quarter of a tied game, senior quarterback Bryce Newland was sacked by a swarm of Adena defenders. Newland did not get up and he didn’t return to the game after breaking his fibula.
But like any good team, the Bearcats made a quick adjustment to move senior Iann Cockrell to a wildcat quarterback. Cockrell — fittingly —eventually scored the winning touchdown just five plays later in a 21-14 win.
However, the game was still far from over.
After forcing a three-and-out on Adena’s first possession, the Bearcats drove 60 yards in just five plays, capped off by a 44-yard burst on a sweep from Brayden Ison. Ison, the SVC’s reigning 100-meter dash champion, showed off his blazing speed after he made a cut and sprinted untouched to the end zone.
Jackson Williams drilled the extra point, after Cole Miller made a great play to corral a high snap and placed it perfectly for Williams, to put the Bearcats ahead 7-0.
The Bearcats’ defense show its meddle after a long kickoff return from Adena’s Carson Long put the Warriors in excellent field position. On a 4th and 3 play at Paint Valley’s 49-yard line, the black and yellow stacked the line of scrimmage and stopped the Warriors’ run attempt to force a turnover on downs.
That’s where last week’s connection of Bryce Newland to Cruz McFadden made their mark again.
The senior duo connected twice for 50 yards on the scoring drive, which was finished off when McFadden made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone on a perfect throw from Newland. After Williams’ extra point, the Bearcats appeared to be in complete control, leading 14-0 after one quarter.
However, Adena channeled Lee Corso and said, “Not so fast!” by responding in a big way. A blue-collar, 11-play, 82-yard drive followed, capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run from junior Nate Throckmorton.
All 11 plays on the drive came on the ground. Garrett Clark hit the extra point to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 14-7.
One of the key linemen on the drive was right guard Eric Hurtt. If Hurtt appeared to be a standout on the offensive line, then he made sure you knew that he was a stud on the defensive side of the ball as well. Over the next seven minutes, the junior logged a sack and made an outstanding play on a screen pass to intercept it and rumble down to PV’s 25-yard line.
Six plays later, running back Dalton Metzger snuck his way into the end zone on a 4th and 1 play from the 3-yard line. Clark converted another PAT to tie the game 14-14 going into halftime.
Paint Valley received the kickoff to start the third quarter and drove 51 yards in 11 plays to take the lead on Cockrell’s two-yard plunge. Williams continued his perfect night to move the Bearcats ahead 21-14.
Even though the Bearcats scored after Newland’s injury, it was clear that if they were to pull off the road victory, the defense would have to stand tall.
That’s exactly what happened.
Over the final 18 minutes, Adena had four possessions, but only moved the chains three times, never reaching the red zone. Drives stalled out thanks in part to outstanding defensive plays from John Alley, Cordell Grubb, and Lane Mettler.
An interception in the end zone by Dane Miller with 3:28 to play appeared to close the book on the ballgame, as long as Paint Valley’s offense could gain one more first down.
|24:53||TIME OF POSSESSION||23:07|
After three rushes, the Bearcats were forced to punt, giving the Warriors one more chance to even the game.
That’s where Grubb made his biggest play of the game. The sophomore middle linebacker and punter blasted a 57-yard kick that settled at Adena’s 19-yard line with just 1:40 left on the clock.
McFadden officially slammed the door on the contest with an outstanding interception along Paint Valley’s sideline and get the Bearcats off to a 1-0 start in Scioto Valley Conference play.
For Paint Valley, McFadden finished the game with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Newland was 5-of-11 passing for 69 yards, while rushing for 62 yards on four carries. Ison led the Bearcats on the ground with 80 yards on only eight carries and Cockrell became a workhorse late in the contest, rushing 19 times for 70 yards.
As for Adena, the Warriors were led in rushing by Throckmorton, who had 18 carries for 103 yards and a score. Dalton Metzger ran hard for the Warriors, finishing with 42 yards on seven carries and a score, and was outstanding as a lead blocker as well.
In Week 5, Adena looks to bounce back as it hosts Unioto while Paint Valley attempts to stay perfect in SVC play, traveling to Piketon.
NOTES: There was a one-minute weather delay in the second quarter … yes, one minute … there was a combined 12 penalties for 120 yards … this was Paint Valley’s third consecutive win in the series … Paint Valley has now won 11 of the 20 matchups since the year 2000
8:00 — PV, Brayden Ison 44 yard run (Jackson Williams kick) 7-0 PV
3:19 — PV, Bryce Newland 11 yard pass to Cruz McFadden (Williams kick) 14-0 PV
10:19 — A, Nate Throckmorton 22 yard run (Garrett Clark kick) 14-7 PV
0:27 — A, Dalton Metzger 3 yard run (Clark kick) 14-14
6:12 — PV, Iann Cockrill 2 yard run (Williams kick) 21-14 PV