John Bruce, Contributor
FRANKFORT — Redemption, redemption, redemption.
As Adena junior quarterback Preston Sykes pointed out after the Warriors’ emotional 28-21 win over Unioto Friday, the Warriors had redemption on their minds after last week’s heartbreaker.
“We played more as a team. We were just thinking, ‘Redemption, redemption, redemption,’” Sykes said. “After last week, where we were trying to do our own thing instead of playing as one, we just played as a team tonight.”
While the Warriors were looking to redeem themselves and stay in the Scioto Valley Conference title race, the Shermans were aiming to stay at the top of the SVC standings.
From the opening kickoff until the final two minutes of the first half, Adena was in total control.
The Warriors’ defense held Unioto to a total of negative seven yards over the Tanks’ first four possessions while their own offense stormed out to a quick 12-0 lead.
On Adena’s opening drive, Sykes connected with Logan Bennett for a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. Bennett slid free on a play-action pass and went in untouched. Then, just over two minutes later, Sykes threw a seed to a streaking Carson Long for a 30-yard touchdown.
Unioto finally got things going on its final drive of the first half when Isaac Little found Byrd Green for a 24-yard touchdown. Green made a leaping catch and held on, despite being hit by two defenders as he made the grab.
The 12-7 halftime score set things up for an electrifying second half.
After driving deep into Unioto territory early in the third quarter, Sykes was sacked by the Shermans’ Kenton Richter, who knocked the ball loose. Unioto’s Logan Stanton picked the ball up and rumbled 76 yards to the end zone to give the Tanks their first lead of the night at 14-12.
When it appeared the Shermans had finally taken control of the game, that’s when the Warriors’ offensive line and backfield began to make their mark.
“We had holes all night,” Sykes said about his offensive line. “Unioto has some really big guys up front and they were flying to the ball, but we stayed on them and the running backs helped carry us through.”
Over the next six minutes and 24 seconds, the Warriors would march 67 yards on 10 plays to regain a 20-14 lead. Nate Throckmorton capped off the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge.
But a minute and three seconds later, at the 11:28 mark in the fourth, the Shermans provided an answer.
After their drive began with Little finding Jamarcus Carroll down the right sideline for a 30-yard completion, senior Chris Scaggs cut back and scampered twelve yards for a first down. Scaggs, a standout defensive player, didn’t immediately get back up and needed help going to the sideline.
On the very next play, an energized Carroll hit paydirt from 25 yards out to put the Tanks back in front, 21-20.
Carroll then sprinted to Unioto’s sideline to console his friend after the injury.
While it looked like the tables had turned once again, the Warriors’ offense didn’t appear to buy into that at all. The two-toned blue marched 65 yards in 10 plays to grab a 28-21 lead with Throckmorton once again finishing off the drive.
This time, the junior tailback broke multiple tackles for a tough six-yard touchdown run. He then made an outstanding one-handed catch to extend the lead to 28-21 with just 6:36 to play.
And that’s when things got crazy.
Little was sacked for a 10-yard loss on 3rd and 10 with 4:10 to play. The Shermans then drew up a hook-and-ladder play to get a massive first down. Little hit senior Caleb Smith, who pitched the ball to Carroll, who raced down the sideline for a first down.
Then, it got stranger.
The very next play, a low snap got away from Little and was recovered by the Warriors. However, an inadvertent whistle stopped the play and forced the down to be replayed.
Not enough? Well, it got weirder from there.
After Little was tended to on the field, he had to leave the action for one play and Carroll took over at quarterback. On 1st and 10 from the Adena 37, Carroll, a tailback, rolled to his left and threw downfield, which was eventually intercepted by Throckmorton.
|15:01||TIME OF POSSESSION||32:59|
The play of the night occurred four plays later and was made by Bennett, not in the passing game this time … but on a punt. The junior blasted a 65-yard bomb that cleared the Unioto return man by nearly 15 yards in the air and rolled inside the Shermans’ 10-yard line.
Unioto’s Mason Doughty came in at quarterback to try and tie the game up for the Tanks. The freshman did an admirable job, completing three passes for 63 yards, however, Sykes picked off a pass with 25 seconds left to seal the deal on a conference victory.
All told, Adena held possession of the ball for 18 minutes and 44 seconds in the second half, which appeared to wear down Unioto’s defensive line and gave the Warriors a chance to consistently move the ball.
Sykes, Cottrill, and Jake Dunn had interceptions for the Warriors while Timothy Diamond, Richter, and Nick Crowe had sacks for the Shermans.
Sykes finished the game 10-of-13 passing for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Cottrill had 14 carries for 71 yards, Throckmorton gained 48 yards on 13 attempts, and Bennett finished with 110 yards receiving on six catches.
For Unioto, Little was 6-of-14 passing for 95 yards, Carroll ended the night with 53 yards on the ground and 71 yards receiving, and Byrd Green caught two passes for 35 yards and a score.
Adena travels to Westfall in Week 6 while Unioto hosts Zane Trace.