Game of the Week

Bitikofer and Speicher connect three times, take down West Holmes in week two

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If you’re looking for the area’s best quarterback and receiver pair, look no further than New Philadelphia’s football team. The duo of senior quarterback Logan Bitikofer and his favorite target, fellow senior Peyton Speicher, took their show on the road to Millersburg for a date with the West Holmes Knights on Friday, September 2 in week two of the high school football season.

And the two showed why they are so dynamic.

Bitikofer and Speicher hooked up for three touchdowns, one in the first half and two more in the second half to lead the Quakers over West Holmes by a score of 31-7, moving to 2-0 on the season.

The Knights’ only score came in the fourth quarter with 6:26 to play on a 1-yard rumble by sophomore Cale Ogi. West Holmes drops to 0-2 on the young campaign.

Neither West Holmes or New Philadelphia were able to break through in a quick first quarter that only took 20 minutes to play. Finally with 5:37 to play in the second quarter the Quakers drew first blood with a 25-yard field goal from Logan Morehead who blasted it through the uprights with authority.

The Knights then handed the Quakers a short field on a not-so-good punt and Bitikofer and Speicher took quick advantage. Bitikofer hit Speicher for their first touchdown of the game from 23 yards with 2:22 left in the half that sent the Quakers to the half up 10-0.

The Knights received the ball to start the second half, but went three-and-out and had to punt. The Quakers, who had already gotten pressure on the first two West Holmes’ punts, came flying in again and this time broke through and blocked the punt. Senior Linkon Sealock made the block and then Cullon Brogan fell on it at the West Holmes 14-yard line.

On the next play Kye Crowthers rolled in from 14 yards to push the New Philadelphia lead to 17-0. (video)

While it felt as though the Knights were never out of the game, the clutch special teams play on the blocked punt gave the Quakers the momentum they needed to finish off the Knights.

With 1:35 left to play in the third quarter Bitikofer dropped a pea to the corner of the end zone to Speicher, this time from 26 yards, to push the lead to 24-0.

West Holmes would get on the board next when the Knights forced a turnover and then scored four plays later when Ogi scored his fourth touchdown of the season from one yard out. (video)

When it looked as though the Quakers may try to run out the clock, they decided to go to the air one more time and the result was another scoring play from, you guessed it, Bitikofer to Speicher. This time Bitikofer laid out a long bomb to Speicher that he ran down, caught and waltzed into the end zone untouched to cap a New Philadelphia win.

FOUR DOWNS

1. West Holmes quarterback Trenton Bridenthal made an unbelievable 24-yard scamper that saw the senior spin twice past New Philadelphia defenders. At the end of the play, Bridenthal was banged up a bit that allowed sophomore Bridger Cline to get some snaps at the helm of the offense. Cline slung a pair of completed passes and looked confident and ready to play under center.

2. The Knights allowed too many short-field situations for the Quakers and their potent offense. Also three West Holmes turnovers gave the Quakers easy shots at the end zone.

3. Talk about balance, the Quakers have it. To go with the air attack the Quakers have two effective runners in the backfield in Crowthers and senior Blake Bollon. Bollon also made three catches out of the backfield, one for 33 yards that led to a score.

4. Last week against Triway the Knights had two drives stall deep in Triway territory and didn’t come up with any points. It was deja vu this week as two Knights’ drives ended inside the Triway 30-yard line with no points being added to the board.

MAN IN MOTION – OHIOSPORTSTICKET.COM PLAYER OF THE GAME

New Philly’s kicker Logan Moreland has a bazooka for a right foot and put the Knights deep in their own territory again and again, but the nod goes to Bitikofer. His calmness and experience in the pocket is impressive and his last TD pass to Speicher was as beautiful a ball you will seen thrown this year.

SIDELINE BUZZ

New Philadelphia coach Matt Dennison said he was impressed with West Holmes’ improvement this year.
“We started slow, but I give them a lot of credit, they came out and played hard. They have made big strides with their football program. They are physical and really good up front.”

Dennison on the blocked punt and his effective special teams effort.
“We take a lot of pride in our special teams. The kicking game was big tonight. We pressured two punts they hit short and blocked another one to set up a score and Logan (Morehead) was booming it tonight and he’s a good weapon to have. When we give them a long field, especially with the offense they play, it makes it tough on them.”

Dennison on the stiff defense against West Holmes all night long.
“We held Canton Central to no touchdowns last week and we played real well last week. We’re solid defensively and hang our hat on our defense.”

West Holmes coach Ron Hay on the good first half effort from his Knights.
“I thought we looked really good early on. Our kids were getting after it and hitting them. If we take away a couple mental mistakes, shoot, we’re really in that game. We played well, but it seems at times we take plays off and we just can’t afford to do that.”

Coach Hay on the punt block and how it changed the game.
“When a team comes up with a big play, whether it’s them or us, it always brings that team up and takes the other one down.”

Coach Hay on letting a couple scoring chances slip away early in the game.
“It changes the tone of the game when we get in the red zone and don’t convert. That’s when we need to dig in and make it happen. We have got to get the ball in the end zone. We just have to. It really has taken the wind out of our sails. The defense always comes back though and is resilient, so we have to look at the positive part as well.”

Coach Hay on the improvements from last week.
“I liked our effort a lot better tonight, than last week. I think that’s big and we’ll drive that home with the players as we buckle up and head to Stuebenville next week.”

VIDEO OF THE NIGHT

Blake Bollon makes a heads-up play, snagging this interception on a deflection.

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