Tyler Hart, Contributor
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
CIRCLEVILLE — What a difference a week makes.
Just seven days after falling to Zane Trace, Logan Elm bounced back in a big way. The Braves got their first win of the 2022 campaign and it was done in all facets of the game on Friday.
From blocking punts to intercepting passes to running down Westfall’s quarterback, Logan Elm (1-1) was dominant in a 35-0 shutout victory.
“I challenged our guys last week. We have great leaders and great kids,” Logan Elm coach Terry Holbert said. “I knew they would respond in the right way and they did. This is just step one and we have to continue to build off this.”
The ground game for Logan Elm was limited in its Week 1 loss. But it was the main source of the Braves’ offensive production against the Mustangs.
Enter Blayton Reid, who played like a man among boys. LE’s senior back had himself a career night, tallying 225 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. Added to those numbers was sophomore quarterback Aaron Walters’ rushing, a modest 31 yards on six totes and the game’s first score.
“Our offensive line did a tremendous job. They set the tone,” Holbert said. “Blayton was great tonight. He had 225 yards on the ground, which is one heck of an evening that benefits from focusing on developing the run.”
Walters found the end zone from 10 yards out at the 4:27 mark in the first quarter, giving Logan Elm a 7-0 lead after Owen Elswick kicked the PAT through the uprights.
Westfall (1-1) found itself with its back against the wall on its first series, due in part, to penalties.
Quarterback Bryce Wickline found himself in trouble on the last play of the quarter as he scrambled around the backfield before running out of leg room. Reid, who made an impact on the defensive side of the football as well, came up with a three-yard sack to force WF to punt.
Then, on the first play of a fresh quarter, Logan Elm found itself in the backfield once again. Gavin Griffey beat his man and blocked the punt attempt, setting up the Braves’ offense at Westfall’s 31-yard line.
That led to Landon Thompson capping off the next drive with a four-yard run to put Logan Elm ahead 14-0 at the 9:30 mark.
The Mustangs then marched down the field behind short yardage plays until penalties came back into the equation. Then, to make matters worse, a deep ball from Wickline would find the opposing hands of Braylen Baker on a 3rd and 19 throw. Baker returned the interception to the Mustangs’ 26-yard line before being drug down.
15 seconds later, the Braves’ offense struck again with a powering run from Reid. He scored his first touchdown of the night from 19 yards out to give the Braves a 21-0 lead with 6:05 to play in the first half.
“The biggest focus this week was on us,” Holbert said. “Let’s get us right, let’s establish the run first and foremost, then everything in the game of football builds off of that. That was the biggest challenge to our guys between Week 1 and Week 2. We failed to consistently establish the run game last week and that was all over our scouting report.”
Logan Elm’s defense started the second half in similar fashion as it ended the first — continuing to prevent Westfall’s offense from moving the sticks. When the Braves got the ball back, Reid ended their first possession of the half with a 25-yard touchdown run to make it 28-0.
Each team spent the rest of the third trading possessions, heading into the fourth with Logan Elm holding a 28-0 advantage. The game’s final touchdown came via Reid, his second 25-yard touchdown rush of the evening, to round out the 35-0 final.
Reid grabbed the headlines with his 225-yards rushing performance, Walters was 5-of-9 passing for 86 yards, and Baker added three catches for 32 yards.
Westfall was led by Wickline, who posted 24 rushing yards on 10 carries while going 13-of-22 passing for 160 yards alongside three interceptions. Casey Cline, for the second straight week, made an impact in the passing game with six catches for 114 yards.
Westfall will attempt to bounce back in Week 3 at Circleville while Logan Elm hosts Miami Trace.
“Our defensive line was tremendous and our run defense was excellent,” Holbert said of Friday’s win. “Then, our secondary came up with three huge turnovers at times where Westfall got some yards and were putting some drives together. It was a total team effort in all three facets with the punt block on special teams.”