John Bruce, Contributor
CHILLICOTHE — If you can control the line of scrimmage, more often than not, you’ll finish ahead on the scoreboard.
Behind five senior offensive linemen, the Paint Valley Bearcats (3-1) did just that in their 55-29 victory over Unioto on Friday night.
Nick Mills, Shawn Stewart, Caden Smith, Devlen Spradlin, and Isaac Alley opened holes all night long for the Bearcats to the tune of 382 yards rushing on only 27 attempts.
The Bearcats’ line play was so ridiculously good that it almost overshadowed the nights that Cavan Cooper and Cordell Grubb had. Almost.
Cooper, a sophomore quarterback, accounted for five touchdowns, while Grubb scored twice on his own and was outstanding on both sides of the ball.
Unioto (2-2) actually took the lead to start the game on a 22-yard field goal from Lucas Hanes following a nearly six-minute drive.
It appeared that Unioto would be getting the ball back quickly, but Paint Valley coach Corey Dye dialed up a fake punt, and Grubb connected with Trent Mettler for a 25-yard first down to maintain the Bearcats’ opening drive. The drive was finished off when Cooper hit tight end Beau Blankenship from seven yards out on the final play of the first stanza.
Grubb continued to make his impact on the game when he intercepted an Isaac Little pass down the sideline before bullying his way through a multitude of tackles to go 58 yards to score. The Bearcats would score again before the half when Cooper hit Grubb on a perfectly called middle screen for a 49-yard touchdown.
However, the Shermans wouldn’t be put away quite so easily.
On 4th and short with less than 10 seconds to play in the first half, Little found a diving Byrd Green in the back of the end zone to cut the Bearcat lead to 21-9 at halftime.
The teams traded scores to begin the second half, with Tramel Byrd scoring from 20 yards out for the Bearcats, while Little hit Maddox Fox for a 41-yard score. Following an interception by Little, the momentum appeared to be moving towards the driving Shermans.
Freshman Quinlan Netter broke off a 40-yard run to set the Shermans up in Bearcat territory, but back-to-back penalties pushed the Tanks back. That set up some heroics by Cooper, this time on defense.
Cooper made a shoestring catch on an interception and took it 55 yards to the house to put the game away for the black and yellow. Cooper added two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter to complete his outstanding night.
While the Shermans were handed their second loss of the season, all was not negative for the purple and gold. Freshman Newton Hoops hit Fox for a score in the fourth quarter and Emily Hanes drilled an extra point to close out the evening’s scoring. With the PAT, Hanes became the first female to score a point in Unioto football history.
Isaac Little finished 15-of-22 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Little also had an interception on defense. Fox reeled in six catches for 155 yards and two scores to continue his breakout season. Cameron Lohnes led the Tanks in rushing with 73 yards on 10 totes and a touchdown. Green had an outstanding all-around game, snagging five catches and a touchdown, while forcing two fumbles defensively and picking off two passes. The Shermans will be back in action next Friday, hosting Southeastern (1-3).
For Paint Valley, Cavan Cooper finished 4-of-8 passing for 60 yards and two scores, while rushing six times for 90 yards and another two scores. Byrd led the Bearcats with 176 yards on the ground, with two touchdowns himself. Grubb went 1-of-1 passing for 25 yards, and rushed four times for 77 yards and a touchdown. The Bearcats return home to Bainbridge to welcome in Zane Trace (2-2) next Friday evening.
|27 rushes, 382 yards||Rushing Attempts, Yards||28 rushes, 141 yards|
|36 plays, 467 yards||Total Offense||56 plays, 374 yards|
|12 — 125||Penalties — Yardage||14 — 118|
|4 (3 INT, 1 Fumble)||Turnovers||3 (2 INT, 1 Fumble)|