In a one-score game, there often can be a single play that both teams can look back and say it made the difference.
In the Licking Valley High School football team’s 34-27 win over host Granville on Oct. 20 that allowed the Panthers to clinch the LCL-Buckeye Division title, that play came from junior defensive end Logan White.
White intercepted a shovel pass off the fingertips of Blue Aces quarterback Cameron Crouch in Granville’s end zone. It provided the Panthers a 27-14 lead with 11 minutes, 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter and just enough cushion to ward off Granville’s fourth-quarter charge.
“He made a great play there,” Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman said. “He’s got good hands and he read it and played it perfect. I think that’s his first (touchdown), so he’ll remember that one. Good time to get your first.”
“It was awesome. He’s been trying to score in practice all the time,” running back Connor McLaughlin said.
The interception was set up with a phenomenal punt from McLaughlin, who pinned the Blue Aces inside their 2-yard line. McLaughlin, Licking Valley’s standout running back, scored three touchdowns and gained 155 yards to carry the Panthers offense.
After White’s interception, Granville responded almost immediately. Crouch connected with sophomore wide receiver Zach Walsh for a 65-yard touchdown pass. Granville linebacker Tommy Wolfe intercepted Licking Valley quarterback Jake Lewis for the second time in Panthers territory, and Keegan Van Meter caught a 3-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 41-yard drive.
With the score tied and almost all the momentum in Granville’s favor, Licking Valley didn’t fold. The Panthers embarked on a 4:48 drive that included a key 6-yard run from Lewis to convert a fourth-and-3. It was capped off with a 11-yard run by McLaughlin.
It mirrored another long, meticulous drive from Licking Valley earlier in the half, in which the Panthers went 99 yards to take a 21-14 lead.
“That was huge,” Baughman said. “Mentally, it gave our kids a lot of confidence, and that’s kind of old-fashioned football, which we used to do that every week.
The Panthers dominated the first half by outgaining the Blue Aces 249-79 and controlling time of possession 12:34-7:05. The two turnovers were the Panthers’ undoing in the first half.
Licking Valley turned the ball over three times while Granville had one, but the Panthers’ resilience ended up shining through.
“We had some mistakes, especially in the first half, but we just kept battling,” Baughman said. “And if you just keep battling, a lot of times good things will happen.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final LICKING VALLEY 7 7 7 13 34 GRANVILLE
7 7 0 13 27