The Canal Winchester High School football team’s defense had given up an average of 21.7 points in its previous three games entering a Friday, Sept. 23, showdown with visiting Amanda-Clearcreek.
But none of those games — two of which were wins — left the Indians’ players with the empty feeling in the pit of their stomachs that a 28-13 loss to the Aces in an MSL-Buckeye Division game did.
In victories over Grove City (26-23) and Fairfield Union (44-22) and a loss to Marion-Franklin (20-17), the offense did enough to bail out any defensive shortcomings. Against the Aces, the Indians (3-2 overall, 1-1 MSL) mustered just 172 yards — only 48 rushing — and constantly left the defense working on short fields.
“The defense really did play another good game,” Indians coach Shawn Hinkle said. “Our offense left the defense hanging out to dry. We left them out there all night. We left (Amanda-Clearcreek) on a short field. We did not help our defense in any way, shape or form. That’s something we obviously have to fix. … We have not been good throwing the ball down the field and stretching defenses out, and that came back to bite us tonight.”
Not that Amanda-Clearcreek (4-1, 2-0) was flashy. The Aces stuck to their run-first, smash-mouth philosophy to amass 229 of their 361 yards on the ground. Chet Saum ran for 184 yards and touchdowns of 5 and 48 yards on 24 carries. The longer run was the clincher with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left, and it came 46 seconds after Jake Fox’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Christie had made it 21-13.
“It gives us a good boost,” Aces coach Dale Olney said. “We play three Division II teams in a row (the Indians, Hamilton Township and Teays Valley), so it’s really important starting into that to win a game like this. When we had to get down and dirty tonight, we did.”
The defenses almost outgained the offenses in the first half. They combined for 133 yards on three interception returns, including an 83-yarder for a score by Canal Winchester’s Landon Yeartie. The Aces had 116 yards in the first half, the Indians 60.
Yeartie’s return answered Austin Smith’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Allen Andrix.
Canal Winchester’s Jaquan Ransome rushed for a team-high 20 yards on seven carries. Christie caught three passes for 53 yards.
“Their defensive line did some things (but) really nothing we hadn’t seen on film,” Hinkle said. “I think their moving around got in our kids’ heads a little bit, but the bottom line is we didn’t play well up front at all. That was our worst game as an offensive unit, bar none.”
AMANDA-CLEARCREEK 7 7 0 14 -- 28
CANAL WINCHESTER 7 0 0 6 -- 13
AC--Andrix 12 pass from Smith (Brown kick)
CW--Yeartie 83 interception return (Ising kick)
AC--Saum 5 run (Brown kick)
AC--Miller 10 run (Brown kick)
CW--Christie 33 pass from Fox (kick blocked)
AC--Saum 48 run (Brown kick)