Early big plays by the Columbus Academy football team were not enough to overcome Licking Valley’s dominant ground game and defense in an MSL-Ohio Division contest on Friday, Oct. 14.
The visiting Panthers rushed for 347 yards and their pressure defense stifled the Vikings in the second half as Licking Valley rolled to a 35-14 win.
“I was very pleased with the way we played on both sides of the ball,” said Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman, whose team improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in league play. “We took advantage of a short field once, we had a few real good drives and our defense really stepped up with the exception of a big play or two for them.”
Drew McArtor again was the workhorse, as he rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. He scored on runs of 6, 16 and 2 yards.
“Our line was exceptional tonight,” McArtor said. “We practiced all week against this defensive look and came out and executed what we planned to do. (Quarterback Matt McClain) did a good job getting out there for some nice runs, too. He’s pretty quick and has some wheels that people don’t seem to think he has.”
When McArtor wasn’t bursting through gaping holes in the Vikings’ defense, McClain was pulling the ball down and skirting around the ends. He had 82 yards and two touchdowns (31 and 25 yards) on seven carries.
“They just dominated us, especially in the second half on the line of scrimmage,” Columbus Academy coach Jim Collis said. “They were just more physical than us. The better team won tonight. We had a few big plays to keep us in it at halftime, but they drove it right down our throats to start the second half to give them a 28-14 lead.”
McArtor’s 2-yard run capped the 11-play, 67-yard drive that consumed 6 minutes, 28 seconds of the third quarter.
Trailing by two touchdowns late in the third quarter, the Vikings (5-3, 3-2) tried a fake punt on fourth-and-7 from their 30-yard line. But Jacob Wilson’s pass was dropped when it appeared the Vikings would convert the first down.
The Panthers converted the miscue into a 35-14 lead three plays later when McClain got loose for a 25-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
“That was a critical drop because we had the chance to come back and gain the momentum and the play was there,” Collis said. “Even so, I don’t know if it would’ve mattered with the way they controlled the line of scrimmage tonight.”
McClain opened the scoring with a 31-yard run, but R.J. Watters took the next play from scrimmage 80 yards to tie the score. He finished with 116 yards on 10 carries and Licking Valley surrendered just 62 yards rushing the rest of the game.
“I thought our defense played outstanding,” Baughman said. “To hold this team to 14 points as explosive as they are was pretty impressive. We wanted to get pressure on their quarterback and we did that well. We decided to pin our ears back and go. Our offensive line got that score right back. There’s no better defense than our offense.”
It was 14-all before McArtor’s 16-yard touchdown run with 1:36 remaining before halftime gave the Panthers the lead for good.
LICKING VALLEY 7 14 7 7 -- 35
COLS. ACADEMY 7 7 0 0 -- 14
LV--McClain 31 run (R. Wilson kick)
CA--Watters 80 run (Long kick)
LV--McArtor 6 run (R. Wilson kick)
CA--Ratcliff 12 pass from J. Wilson (Long kick)
LV--McArtor 16 run (R. Wilson kick)
LV--McArtor 2 run (R. Wilson kick)
LV--McClain 25 run (R. Wilson kick)