Zane Trace Pioneers football
Tyler Hart

Tyler Hart

Dominant run game, stingy defense paces Pioneers to win over Piketon

The Pioneers stay perfect at 4-0.

Tyler Hart, Contributor

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

KINNIKINNICK — Four games into the 2022 season and the Zane Trace Pioneers are still rolling.

Zane Trace’s Carter Langley talks with coach Heath Hinton during the Pioneers’ win over Piketon.
CREDIT: Tyler Hart/SOSA

Piketon traveled to Kinnikinnick on Friday as the Scioto Valley Conference’s defending champions. The Redstreaks looked to continue developing their young talent in stride but the Pioneers had other plans.

Thanks to a dominant rushing attack and a defense that forced two turnovers, including a late interception return for a touchdown that put the win in the books, Zane Trace (4-0, 1-0 SVC) walked away with a 38-20 victory to stay perfect.

“We said last week that Piketon had a target on their backs,” Zane Trace’s Carter Langley said. “We came through and dethroned the SVC champs.”

Zane Trace has been playing all season long with a loaded offensive line that can open a window for a quartet of strong backs to make plays — Langley, Daniel Barnhart, Blake Phillips and Riley Hartsaugh.

Those four combined to rush for 333 yards on 35 carries — an average of 9.5 yards per rush — to spearhead a fourth straight win.

“I just do what I always do and the linemen did what they did,” Barnhart said. “They ran hard, we ran hard but we hit harder.”

After a scoreless first quarter, both Zane Trace and Piketon would force a turnover each in the second. Hartsaugh fell onto a loose ball, following a Redstreaks’ play-action pass call and Piketon’s Zane Brownfield later came away with an interception as Langley targeted Drew Lane on the throw. 

With its back against the wall, ZT later forced Piketon to gamble on a 4th and 9 play. On that snap, the ball was overthrown through the back of the end zone and the Pioneers wasted zero time finding the paint.

Blake Phillips busted free for 79 yards and, after a missed PAT, Zane Trace went ahead 6-0 with 9:15 to play in the first half. 

After the Pioneers’ defense forced another stop, their offense took advantage of the opportunity,

At the 4:13 mark, Langley found Nalin Robinson, who broke out of his set tight end formation. Robinson ran a crossing pattern in the end zone and Langley found his target for a 13-0 score — the eventual halftime tally. 

The game’s next score came with 10:13 left in the third when Langley hooked up with Austen Ison for a touchdown on a play that was deflected by a defender before falling into Ison’s hands.

The Redstreaks (2-2, 0-1 SVC), down 20-0, finally snapped the scoring drought with a 33-yard run from Buddy Wilson with 7:13 left in the third. After a failed two-point try, Piketon had cut the deficit to 20-6.

But a few minutes later, the Pioneers responded with Phillips’ second touchdown of the night for a 26-6 advantage. Piketon’s Luke Guillon then helped cut that lead to 26-14 with a touchdown connection to Brent McGuire before the end of the third quarter.

That’s when the Pioneers’ ground game came back into the picture.

Barnhart carried the workload and broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run with 11:51 remaining, making it a 32-14 game. Not to be outdone, McGuire took a keeper into the end zone less than five minutes later, making it 32-20 at the 7:02 mark.

The Redstreaks got the ball back with 3:33 left but Aaden Dunn capped the night with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown that rounded out the night’s final and pounded the nails in Piketon’s proverbial coffin.

“We play really well at home and last year, we played really well at home,” Langley said. “It always feels good [to be home] after two road wins. We really haven’t been a road team and two road wins coming into tonight’s opening SVC win is awesome.”

Barnhart led the Pioneers statistically with 10 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown. Phillips added nine rushes for 127 yards and two scores, Hartsaugh racked up 57 yards on five carries, and Langley was 4-of-9 passing for 59 yards with two scores, alongside 19 rushing yards.

Piketon’s final statistics were not available by time of publication.

Zane Trace now looks towards a home date with Huntington while the Redstreaks host Unioto.

“It’s the best feeling in the world representing the red, white and blue,” Langley said of his team’s win on Military Appreciation Night. “It’s good to get a win at home. We just have to stay humble and take it one week at a time.”

SPONSORED BY TERRELL FAIRROW — ERA MARTIN & ASSOCIATES

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