Game of the Week

Knights flex their muscles in 68-13 homecoming romp over Rams

Hayden Baker goes head-voer-heels on this play, and the Knights went nuts on offense during a homecoming night win — Heather Landon photo

Those in attendance at the week-five OHSAA football contest between host West Holmes and visiting Mansfield Madison saw a storm delay the homecoming festivities by 30 minutes. Then they saw Carson Pritt tabbed as the West Holmes homecoming queen.

In celebration everyone on the Knights’ side of the ledger got to celebrate with a fireworks display, courtesy of the Knights’ football team, which used every aspect of the game to build a 68-13 victory.

While lightning and thunder were the cause of commotion prior to the game, it was the Knights’ talented and undefeated players who lit up the night sky at Knights Stadium.

Senior Shane Jones ignited the homecoming crowd on the game’s first play, returning the opening kick-off deep into Rams territory on a play that saw him break tackles and drag defenders for 15 extra yards.

Cale Ogi then used some ground and pound and finished off his initial drive with a 3-yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.

The Knights defense then forced a three-and-out, and Jones finished what he nearly did on the opening kick, racing untouched through the Rams special teams for a 54-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Madison again couldn’t budge the ball, and three plays later punted it away. Quarterback Bridger Cline then took over and started finding large chunks of real estate, hitting Jones and Braden Allen on long strikes, both of those passes setting up scores. The first came when he connected with Brady Taylor for a 6-yard score in the corner of the end zone, the second on a pitch-and-catch to Peyton McKinney from 2 yards that gave the Knights a 26-0 bulge.

With the offense and special teams lighting up the night sky, the defense proved to be a black hole where offenses go to disappear.

Madison managed just one first down in the first half, and after getting another three-and-out, Hayden Baker broke several tackles on his way to a stunning 34-yard touchdown romp. Then later Cline led the Knights downfield, and the score became 40-0 when Ogi plunged in from 1 yard out. The fireworks continued when Cline tossed a screen to Grady Hay for a 5-yard score, and with the half winding down, West Holmes got a stop with 44 seconds to go and got a big punt return. After a penalty wiped out a touchdown, West Holmes went right back to that same play and scored again to make it 47-0 on a Peyton McKinney to Jones 15-yard scoring strike.

With all of the hoopla and activity going on with the homecoming procession and scoring drives for West Holmes, it was a wonder the West Holmes marching band had enough energy to do their halftime show, but Brian Dodd’s crew managed to put together another shining show.

West Holmes head coach Zach Gardner emptied his bench during a second half that saw a running clock from start to finish, and the reserves did a good job of producing some quality numbers.

Madison finally got its offense in gear to start the second half, driving downfield to set up on a 16-yard touchdown run by Miles Bond, but West Holmes was led right back down the field by McKinney, who found some daylight and took off for a 5-yard scoring run to make it 60-6.

Bond powered his way to pay dirt to get the Rams into double digits at 62-13, but with the clock flying through the second half, West Holmes’ third-string quarterback Noah Clark would lead one last West Holmes drive that would result in a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Clark that finished off the scoring.

In less than one half the starting crew for West Holmes put up some pretty gaudy numbers. Cline completed eight-of-13 passes for 175 yards and two scores and just missed connecting on two long bombs with Jones, who snared two passes for 42 yards and a touchdown as well as produced the punt return for a score. After getting shut down last week at Mansfield Senior, Ogi pounded out 85 yards and two TDs on 10 carries. Brady Taylor caught two passes for 94 yards including a long 63-yard catch and run on a screen pass. Braden Allen snared two balls for 44 yards, Hay added two catches and a score, Michael Miller caught one pass for 27 yards, and Logan Kula added four catches for 30 yards.

McKinney seemed to be everywhere, catching two balls, one of them for a score, and then he went back to man the quarterback position, where he was eight-off-11 for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also added a rushing touchdown. Clark went one-of-four passing for 27 yards and added the rushing TD.

With Gavin Sheldon out with a shoulder injury, Hayden Baker, Gavin Freeman and Lane Graham got some extended playing time in the backfield. Baker ran for 46 yards on just three carries, Freeman rushed for 33 yards on four carries and Graham slammed out 21 yards on his two carries. Bond would rack up 89 rushing yards for a pair of touchdowns with most of those yards and the two scores coming in the second half. West Holmes hammered out 231 yards on the ground and 281 yards through the air as the Knights improved to 5-0 and the Rams fell to 1-4. West Holmes is currently ranked second in their region in Div. III.

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