BIDWELL, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Raiders, and even if you asked them, it was a steamrolling they didn’t see coming.
That’s because the visiting Nelsonville-York Buckeyes — with big plays in the running game, passing game and on defense — simply rolled River Valley 46-6 on Friday night in the two teams’ Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division football opener.
The Raiders, which were brimming with confidence following a 3-0 start to the season, had much go wrong on Friday night — while just about everything went right for Nelsonville-York.
As a result, the Buckeyes evened their record to 2-2 — and became the first football program to win 200 games in the TVC.
Only five schools have over 100 league wins, as Nelsonville-York — despite last year’s 1-9 campaign — has long been the conference’s king of the mountain.
The Buckeyes certainly showed that against River Valley.
They outgained the Raiders by exactly 300 yards (492-192), and even put the running clock into effect for the final 11 minutes and 43 seconds.
And, while River Valley’s opponents had a combined 1-8 record with the Buckeyes’ being 8-1, most observers expected a close contest.
That didn’t happen.
“They (Buckeyes) were sharp, they were focused, and the truth is we got our butts kicked by a really good football team,” said a blunt River Valley coach Jerrod Sparling. “My hats off to Nelsonville-York. They took it to us and beat us to the punch. I don’t know that the Xs and Os were terribly off, but we just didn’t fit right or were a gap short or we didn’t tackle. We didn’t play well and we didn’t tackle well. That’s the long and short of it. When you play good teams like Nelsonville-York and they are aggressive and they come at you, and you’re not focused or sharp, this is going to happen.”
Speaking of kings of the mountain, how about Alex Mount?
The Buckeyes’ six-foot one-inch, 200-pound senior tailback tore through the Raider defense for 216 rushing yards on only 11 carries.
He rushed right up the middle on the fourth play from scrimmage for a 66-yard touchdown, setting the tone for the entire night only two minutes into the game.
With Garrett Maiden’s first of four successful extra-point kicks, as it turned out, the Buckeyes had all the points they needed for the win.
Then, when the Raiders finally scored with three minutes remaining in the third period to make it 20-6, Mount made the deficit last a mere one minute and two seconds.
Once again — on an inside trap call — Mount got the handoff, broke a Raider tackle in the backfield, and found himself at the second level and into River Valley’s secondary for a 59-yard scoring scamper.
Maiden made his third PAT for a 27-6 score, as the Buckeyes — with a 70-yard touchdown pass and a 75-yard fumble return for a score by Hunter Edwards — actually scored 20 points in exactly two minutes and 11 seconds.
Finally, following River Valley’s fifth punt including four three-and-out possessions, the Buckeyes drove 50 yards in 15 plays — in nine minutes and nine seconds to tack on their final touchdown.
With 19 seconds left, Mikey Seel’s 8-yard scoring pass to Wyatt Wilson officially made it a 40-point final.
Edwards — the Buckeyes’ quarterback — completed half of his 10 passes for 155 yards, and stung the Raiders with both of his two touchdown tosses.
With River Valley trailing 13-0 after a pair of Maiden first-half field goals from 34 and 28 yards, the Raiders missed an attempt of their own from 33 yards out — with four minutes left in the second stanza.
The Buckeyes then drove nine plays and 80 yards, as Edwards hooked up downfield with Ronnie Wend for a 48-yard gain — all the way to the Raider 5-yard-line to convert 3rd-and-18.
On 2nd-and-goal at the 20, Edwards rolled to his left and found freshman Keegan Wilburn in the end zone.
Maiden made his second extra point, and suddenly the Buckeyes led 20-0 with 33 seconds remaining in the half.
The Bucks outgained the Raiders 304-79 in the first half, including a whopping 219 to minus-18 on the ground.
Sparling said recent history between the two clubs, in only their third TVC meeting, saw scores within a touchdown-or-two margin at halftime.
Nelsonville-York’s TD prior to the half was major for momentum.
“We pride ourselves on playing good situational football, and we didn’t tonight at the end of the first half,” said Sparling. “We can’t let anybody behind us in those situations, and we did and that was a killer. If we go in and it’s 13-0, and we get the second-half kickoff and go down and score, it’s a one-score game. But we played bad situational football and we played bad focused football. We got what we deserved.”
The Buckeyes bailed the Raiders out after taking over at the RVHS 17 early in the third quarter, but Dustin Barber intercepted Edwards at the goal-line on a 4th-and-3 situation at the 10.
The Raiders responded by driving 78 yards in 10 plays, picking up four first downs before quarterback Patrick Brown connected with Tre Craycraft for a 25-yard scoring strike at the three-minute mark.
Unfortunately for River Valley, Mount made a mad dash for his second scoring run of at least 59 yards, then Edwards answered another Raider three-and-out with a 70-yard touchdown bomb to Chris Cook.
Edwards went deep and a Raider defender tried to go for the ball, but he mistimed his leap — and Cook caught it in stride while racing to the end zone.
Maiden made his fourth and final extra point for the 34-6 advantage.
That was with 39 seconds left in the third frame, before Edwards — only 17 seconds into the final quarter — scooped up a fumble and returned it 75 yards to paydirt.
Nelsonville-York punted only once, and overcame nine penalties for 67 yards with 16 first downs to River Valley’s 11.
Edwards added 34 rushing yards on seven carries, as the Buckeyes locked down the Raiders for minus-19 rushing yards on 21 totes.
Brown completed 18-of-29 passes for 211 yards, — seven receptions which went to Craycraft for 127.
However, Brown was intercepted at a key juncture — when the Raiders reached midfield for the first time on their third possession of the game and trailing 13-0.
The Raiders return to the road — and return to TVC-Ohio Division action — next week at 2-2 Meigs.
The Marauders are reeling with the injury loss of standout quarterback/linebacker Cody Bartrum, and were upset at Vinton County 41-29 on Friday night.
However, Sparling said his Raiders are only focused on overcoming their initial adversity of the season.
“This was a little bit of a shocker to us, because we’ve played some really good football the last couple of years. But the flip side is still true,” he said. “The bar for us doesn’t drop and the expectations don’t drop. We’ll regroup tomorrow and get after it and get on to Meigs. Being 3-1 four games in isn’t a bad place to be, but we’ve reached a gut-check time. I trust our guys, our program and our coaches. We’re going to get back on track and that’s the only thing we can do.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106