John Bruce, Contributor
PIKETON — For 46 seconds, it appeared as if fans were going to see a shootout in Piketon’s home opener Friday night.
But by the end of that 46 seconds, Rylan Monihan had struck and Wellston’s romp was on in a 44-22 victory over the Redstreaks.
PHOTOS: Images from Wellston’s 44-22 win over Piketon
With Wellston leading 8-6 and 3:51 to play in the first quarter, the senior halfback zigged-zagged his way through Piketon’s defense for a 58-yard touchdown run. Molihan finished the night with 128 yards on only 10 carries, but his hard-nosed running throughout the first quarter set the tone for the rest of the night for the Golden Rockets.
Wellston (1-1) got started early when junior quarterback RJ Kemp connected with fullback Jacob Baisden for a 10-yard score. Baisden only had the one touch in the game, but had an outstanding night as a lead blocker, helping his team to nearly 200 rushing yards in the first half.
A two-point conversion run by Jonathon Garvin gave the Rockets an 8-0 lead.
Piketon quickly responded as sophomore quarterback Levi Gullion capped off a nine-play, 65-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kydan Potts. After the snap on the extra point was low, the 8-6 count was the closest the Redstreaks came to forcing a tie or taking a lead all night long.
Two plays after the Potts touchdown, Molihan went on his mad dash through the defense. Garvin would convert another two-point run, extending the lead to 16-6. Following a three-and-out, Kemp led the Rockets back to the end zone through the air, this time when he hit fellow junior Hunter Smith from 12 yards out. Once again, Garvin rushed in for the two-point conversion, extending the lead to 24-6 early in the second quarter.
Piketon (1-1) scratched a little closer on a 29-yard field goal by Jorge del Rio late in the first half, but the Rockets were ready to launch after that kick.
What followed was an explosion over the final three minutes of the first half, started by a 90-yard kickoff return by Garvin. Garvin then powered in from two yards out with just 59 seconds to play.
That’s when Molihan sprung back into action. Seemingly after his offensive night had been completed for a quarter, the senior was still playing defensive back and put his final stamp on the game after picking off a ball tipped at the line. He returned it 49 yards to the house, completing the Rockets’ scoring and giving them a 44-9 lead at the break.
The Redstreaks wouldn’t go quietly into the night, finding ways to move the ball in the second half behind the arm of Gullion and the legs of seniors Austin Henderson and Sammy Savage. Henderson and Savage each scored on three-yard runs, while Gullion started to get into a rhythm with Chris Chandler to give the Redstreaks some positives going into Week 3.
Wellston was led in rushing by Molihan’s 128 yards, but Kemp also contributed 59 yards on 14 carries. Kemp was 7-of-8 passing for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Leading the way receiving was Smith, who reeled in 5 catches for 86 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Garvin had 44 total yards and scored 18 points. Molihan, Smith, and Joey Dovenbarger had interceptions for the Rockets’ defense.
Piketon was led in rushing by Savage, who had 130 yards on just 12 carries. Henderson added 106 total yards on 16 touches. Gullion finished 12-of-26 through the air for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Piketon travels down Route 23 to battle the Valley Indians next week, as Wellston heads north, traveling to Lakewood.