TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — These Falcons seemed to prefer the ground instead of the air.
The Wahama football team ran for all 302 of its total yards on Friday night, as the White Falcons powered to a 33-12 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Eastern at East Shade River Stadium in Meigs County.
After a three-and-out by each team, it was Eastern (3-4, 2-3 TVC Hocking) that broke the scoreless tie and took the 6-0 with 3:27 left in the first quarter. EHS sophomore Mason Dishong hauled in a 15-yard scoring pass from Nate Durst on the 10th play of the Eagles’ second drive of the game, capping off a 5:26 possession.
The White Falcons (2-5, 2-4) responded with their own touchdown drive, moving the ball 62 yards on 12 plays in just over five minutes. The White Falcons tied the game at six with 10:21 left in the first half, as Christian Thomas broke a seven-yard scoring run, his first of four in the game.
Wahama’s defense forced its second three-and-out on the ensuing Eagle drive, but the punt was fumbled back to EHS, with freshman Blake Newland coming up with the loose ball. The White Falcon defense stood tall again, however, taking possession back after four plays.
After another three-and-out by each side the White Falcon offense took over at the EHS 49. With nine consecutive running plays, Wahama covered the 49 yards in 3:13. From two yards out, Thomas stretched across the goal line with just 36 seconds left in the half, giving the White Falcons their first lead.
On the two-point conversion try, Bryton Grate tossed a pass to Colton Arrington, giving Wahama a 14-6 advantage.
Neither team scored in the the final 36 seconds of the first half, both teams were intercepted, as Grate hauled in an EHS pass and then Newland caught a White Falcon pass on the next play.
In the first half, Wahama held a 124-73 edge in total offense and had two more first downs than EHS. All five of Eastern’s first half first downs came on its scoring drive.
“It was huge for us to get that score right before halftime,” Wahama head coach Dave Barr said. “If you go in with a lead and then get the ball right back, you have a chance to kind of tip the field over. Then, things went the way we wanted them to, as far as what they had to do to get back into the game.”
The White Falcons ran 10 straight running plays out of the half, taking 6:54 off of the clock before having to punt. On Eastern’s first play from scrimmage, a pitch was mishandled and Wahama’s Kyle Marr jumped on the fumble.
The guests ran nine more running plays and with just 16 seconds left in the quarter, Thomas scored on a one-yard, fourth down run, giving WHS a 20-6 advantage.
The Eagles ran a pair of pass plays before the end of the third, making just the second and third offensive snaps for EHS in the period. The Eagle defense was on the field for 11:37 of the total 12 minutes in the third period.
“When they have to stay in there and fire through those wedges, it takes a toll on them,” Eastern head coach Pat Newland said of his defense. “I know a lot of people say, at Division VII you’re defensive guys are still your offensive guys, so it really doesn’t matter. But it takes its toll, especially against a team like this where they just cram the ball up the middle. We have a few kids injured so we weren’t able to sub kids in and out on the line like we’ve been able to.”
Eastern earned its first first down since the opening period on the second play of the fourth quarter, as Noah Browning caught a pass into White Falcon territory. After another successful pass, Durst scrambled 34 yards for the touchdown, cutting Wahama’s lead to 20-12. The six-play, 62-yard drive ended with 10:25 left in regulation.
The White Falcons needed little time to answer, as Arrington started the ensuing possession with a 55-yard run. On the very next play, Thomas scored on a five-yard touchdown run, giving WHS a 26-12 edge with 9:34 remaining.
Eastern earned one first down, but fell two yards short of another on a fourth down try, giving the ball back to the guests with 7:56 to play.
The Red and White used 10 consecutive running plays to cover 68 yards, with Arrington delivering the final blow from six yards out. Brady Bumgarner made the point-after kick, giving WHS a 33-12 lead with 3:21 to play.
The Eagles came up six-yards shy of a first on fourth down and EHS gave the ball the ball back to Wahama, which lined up in victory formation to seal the 33-12 triumph.
“Everything kind of went the way we needed it to go for us,” Barr said. “I felt like we were really dominant running the football in the second half. I thought we played really well on defense and we were much improved in the kicking game. It was a total team effort by a whole lot of people and they have a lot to be proud of.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” Barr added. “We’ve played a tough first half of our schedule, these guys have worked hard every day in practice and they’ve never given up. Tonight, we saw a lot of what they’re capable of doing when they play their very best.”
For the game, Wahama held a 302-178 advantage in total yards, holding the Eagles to just 84 rushing yards. WHS finished with a 16-9 edge in first downs in the win, while both teams committed two turnovers. The White Falcons were penalized twice for 20 yards, while Eastern was flagged once for five yards.
“We didn’t run the ball as well as we would have like to,” Coach Newland said. “We can’t have dropped balls and things like that, and there were a few passes that were off target. We just have to clean all that stuff up.”
Arrington led all players with 139 yards on 17 carries, with one touchdown. Thomas found paydirt four times and earned 128 yards on 25 carries. Bumgarner contributed 23 yards on nine carries, while Grate added 14 yards on four scampers for WHS.
On defense, Grate intercepted a pass, Marr recovered a fumble, while Arrington and Jacob Fisher both added a sack.
For Eastern, Durst — who was 9-of-23 passing for 94 yards and one touchdown — led the ground attack with 54 yards and one score on eight tries.
Browning ran the ball once and hauled in three passes, gaining 43 total yards, while Josh Brewer combined 11 rushes with one reception for 33 total yards. Steven Fitzgerald carried the ball twice for a total of six yards, while Dishong caught two passes for 17 yards and one touchdown.
Blaise Facemyer, Sharp Facemyer and Dylan Creath each caught one pass, gaining 15, six and four yards respectively.
Eastern’s defense was led by Blake Newland with an interception and a fumble recovery, while Will Oldaker came up with a sack.
Wahama had lost four straight games away from Bachtel Stadium, prior to Friday. In the series between WHS and EHS, the road team has now been victorious five straight years in this series.
The White Falcons and Eagles are both on the road next Friday, as Wahama visits South Gallia and Eastern travels to Trimble.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.