Connor Dollison
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Carson Francis

Carson is an aspiring journalist and a student at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He's a lifelong fan of all things Reds, Bengals and Buckeyes, and has seen the game through the eyes of a player, fan and reporter.

Strong second half pushes Unioto past Westfall, back into win column

The Shermans outscored Westfall by a 27-6 margin in the second half.

Carson Francis, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

CHILLICOTHE — Losing can prove to be a make-or-break moment in a team’s season.

After Unioto suffered its first loss of the season at home last week against Waverly, the Shermans were out to prove they are not to be counted out on Friday night.

“We’re never going to give up,” Unioto senior Ashton Crace said. “We came out here tonight and we gave it our all. We couldn’t start [SVC play] 0-1.”

Unioto’s Newton Hoops scores a touchdown in the third quarter of Friday’s win over Westfall.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

Led by a dominant all-around offensive performance, including a record-setting night from quarterback Newton Hoops, Unioto (3-1, 1-0 SVC) powered its way back into the win column with a 48-26 win over Westfall.

“Westfall is a much improved football team,” Unioto coach Matt Hoops said. “I felt like we made a lot of good adjustments on the fly, and to see us do that was huge for us tonight.”

Westfall (2-2, 0-1 SVC) had the night’s first possession and went to work right away, driving into the red zone in just three minutes. 

From there, it faced an early 4th and 10 from the 14-yard line. But Bryce Wickline dropped back and found Jaden Towler down the middle to put the Mustangs on the board first, making it 6-0. 

Unioto answered immediately.

Driving to Westfall’s 20-yard line with 4:32 left in the quarter, Newton Hoops rolled out to his left and found Caden Cutright, with both feet in bounds, for a 20-yard passing touchdown, tying the game at 6-6 after a missed point after attempt.

Not to be outdone, Wickline led the Mustangs down the field and put his team in striking distance. This time, he found Trent Walters on a 32-yard touchdown to give Westfall a 12-6 lead heading into the second quarter.

The two teams then exchanged possessions before Westfall drove into the red zone once again. However, with 5:21 left in the half, Unioto’s defense needed a big stop and it got one.

Wickline dropped back to throw a screen pass. But Unioto’s Caden Cutright jumped in front of the ball for an interception and took it 85 yards to the house, putting his team ahead 14-12 after a successful two-point try. 

PHOTOS: Images from Unioto’s win over Westfall

“Caden’s a great athlete. He’s always around the football”, Matt Hoops said. “He just made really big plays for us tonight and it was the difference for us.”

Unioto didn’t stop there. 

Faced with a 4th and 18 play with 26 seconds left in the first half, Hoops threw to Cutright in double-coverage. Cutright won the battle and came down with his second touchdown reception of the night, putting the Shermans ahead 21-12 heading into the break.

The Mustangs weren’t going away quietly and after forcing Unioto to punt on the opening drive of the second half, they went back to work. 

Wickline ended a lengthy drive, connecting with Trent Walters for a 24-yard touchdown pass at the 8:45 mark of the third. He then found Towler on the two-point try, cutting the deficit to 21-20.

Desperate to keep momentum on its side, Westfall’s defense forced Unioto to punt in enemy territory. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Wickline threw a interception to Crace, giving Unioto fantastic field position.

“We knew in the second half that we had to push it on defense and make big plays”, Cutright said. “We knew we had to pick it up on defense and we got it done.”

Unioto capitalized on the field position. Newton Hoops did it himself from two yards out, extending the lead to a 28-20 margin with 5:43 remaining in the third.

And the Shermans’ defense didn’t take its foot off the gas.

On the first play of the following Westfall possession, Unioto forced a fumble to get the ball back at Westfall’s 33-yard line. David Long entered the game under center and drove Unioto to WF’s three-yard line. He did the rest with a three-yard score to make it a 35-20 game. 

After getting a defensive stop, Unioto put the nail in the coffin on the next drive. Connor Dollison carried the rock 28 yards for his first touchdown of the night, giving the Shermans a 41-20 lead late.

Crace then came up with his second interception of the night to give the Shermans the ball back before they added to the lead with one final touchdown run, courtesy of Ethan Summar.

Westfall added a late touchdown, but the damage had already been done as the Shermans celebrated opening SVC play with a win. 

Newton Hoops – en route to becoming the school’s all-time leader in passing yards – completed 13-of-22 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushing for 29 yards and a touchdown.

On the ground, Dollison carried the ball 16 times for 140 yards to go along with a touchdown. Long had 14 carries for 79 yards and a score. 

Cutright led the Shermans in receiving with six catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with an 85-yard pick six.

Unioto travels to Huntington on Friday for SVC action, while Westfall looks to get back on track as it makes the trip to conference rival Paint Valley. 

“We know Huntington is also trying to improve each week,” Matt Hoops said. “It’s a tough place to play out there, so we have to be ready to play. It’s always a physical game, but our guys will be excited and ready to go.”


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