By PAUL BOGGS
Photo’s by Kent Sanborn http://www.southernohiosportsphotos.com/
MINFORD – Ty Wiget’s two lengthy touchdown dashes, which book-ended Saturday evening’s season opener, summed everything up.
The injury-riddled Rock Hill Redmen simply weren’t going to catch the Minford Falcons.
Minford made big plays from the opening kickoff to the closing whistle, as the Falcons soared past the larger Redmen 43-12 at Minford High School.
The matchup marked the seventh meeting between the two squads since 2012, with Minford winning all except the Redmen’s runaway win three years ago.
The Falcons’ 43 points are the most scored by either team over that same seven-year span.
The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was postponed a day due to inclement weather – with rainwater significantly saturating the playing surface.
Indeed, the field was dried out on Saturday, and neither it nor the Redmen could slow down the speedy Falcons.
Wiget ran the opening kickoff back 81 yards for a touchdown, then closed the scoring by sprinting 68 yards up the middle with five minutes remaining.
The final four minutes and 55 seconds was played under the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule, as several reserves ran the football for Rock Hill on its final possession.
By then, though, the Falcons had long since sealed an important opening-week win.
“Every team wants to get week one, because it springs you forward for week two and often times for the rest of the season,” said Minford coach Jesse Ruby. “We have a lot of speed with our skilled guys, who are very talented and can make people miss and score on any play.”
Wiget rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries – the other TD being a two-yard plunge to cap a two-play, 26-second possession with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Of course, though, his return of the season-opening kickoff caught everybody’s attention.
Wiget ran up and scooped up the ball at the 19, his momentum initially taking him into a line of Rock Hill defenders and Minford blockers.
But he broke free from would-be tacklers, got to the outside on the right side, and outraced the remaining Redmen for the final 50 yards.
“It was kicked kind of short, one of those where he (Wiget) had to come up and pick it up off the ground. At first, I thought he was stopped at around the 35-yard-line. But he squeezed through, made a kid miss, and he just has real good speed and outran everybody,” said Ruby. “He sees the field very well, and took full advantage of an opportunity.”
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, the left-hander and new quarterback this season, led the Falcons with 163 passing yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17 attempts.
He added 22 yards on four carries, part of 148 rushing yards on 23 totes as a team.
His four-yard touchdown run with a minute remaining in the opening quarter closed a six-play, 42-yard drive, making it 14-0 with Caleb Yuhas’ second of five successful extra-point kicks.
Vogelsong-Lewis found his receivers open in space, and those wideouts did their part by picking yards after the catch.
“Elijah is such a natural thrower, and he is so smart about where to put the football. He reads his keys very well,” said Ruby of his signal-caller. “He trusts his receivers, they trust him and they have really good chemistry together.”
Rock Hill coach Mark Lutz said the Falcons’ speed and playmaking ability bothered his club all game.
Combine that with the Redmen moving players around defensively due to their injuries adding up.
Rock Hill was already without senior running back Zak Adkins, and fellow senior running back T.J. McGinnis missed the entire second half after re-injuring his ankle in the first.
Brayden Malone missed as well with an injured knee – as he was set to start in the secondary – and Logan Hankins suffered a dislocated finger, forcing him to miss some snaps on Saturday.
“Minford is a good team with a lot of speed. We had a few opportunities to do a few things, but just didn’t. They have guys that can make plays in open field, and their quarterback does a nice job throwing the ball around,” said Lutz. “We had issues out in space, then when you start moving people around, you are down to your second, third or fourth defensive backs that aren’t used to that many reps. If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all at this moment. We have some kids banged up, but you can’t take anything away from Minford.”
Early in the fourth quarter, and with the Falcons leading 29-12, Vogelsong-Lewis put the contest out of reach with a wide-receiver screen to Matthew Risner right at the Redmen 37, as Risner ran well behind his downfield blockers all the way to the end zone.
The Yuhas extra point made it 36-12 with only 10:51 remaining, as run-oriented Rock Hill – with forced second-half shifts in its offensive backfield and a limited passing attack – couldn’t rally after that.
Risner caught four passes for 72 yards, as Drew Skaggs made three receptions for 37, including a 14-yard touchdown to make it 22-0 with 37 seconds left before halftime.
A low snap on the point-after try turned a Yuhas kick attempt into an improvised Vogelsong-Lewis run, which he converted for the two-point conversion.
That capped a four-play, 80-yard drive, as Vogelsong-Lewis completed passes to Skaggs for 14 and to Wiget for 26 on the opening two plays to move Minford into the red zone.
That score marked a major swing, as it immediately answered a massive march by the Redmen which failed to produce any points.
Rock Hill held the ball for 10 minutes and 40 seconds in the first half, running 17 plays – mainly McGinnis carries from the traditional two-tight full-house formation – and 70 yards to the Minford 3-yard-line.
Unfortunately for the Redmen, McGinnis was hit and fumbled at the 1, as Risner recovered for the Falcons for a touchback.
“That was huge right there,” said Lutz. “If we score right there, it’s 14-7 and we get the second-half kickoff and see what happens. Instead, we don’t get anything and give up another score, and on the two-point conversion, guys in space don’t make another tackle.”
“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” said Ruby. “They we wearing on us with a long drive, and we have a lot of kids playing both ways. But we got the turnover, and our kids rebounded. We started picking up steam again and responded by taking it 80 yards in four plays and scored.”
Ruby explained the difficulty of defending the Redmen’s T-formation offense, which the third-year mentor Lutz brought with him to Rock Hill from his days as an Ironton assistant.
“It’s very tough, because you just don’t see that offense a lot at all. We often times see different offensive styles and sets every week, but usually not like that, especially in week one,” he said. “It was a challenge for us all week. It’s hard to simulate that in practice. But our kids came out and stood in there and did a very good job of trying to contain them.”
The Redmen rushed for 260 yards on 54 carries, as Hankins – who made the lone Rock Hill reception on five passes for 13 yards – had 94 yards on 17 tries.
Brayden Friend, the starting quarterback who was moved to running back in the second half, finished with 66 yards on 10 carries, as McGinnis gained 53 first-half yards on a dozen carries before exiting due to injury.
Friend finished a 61-yard drive with a 36-yard jaunt on the opening possession of the third quarter, as Hankins had a two-yard TD run to end a 48-yard drive with 23 seconds left in the period.
Both drives were five plays, but the Falcons answered the initial Rock Hill score with Wiget’s short scoring run, set up by Risner returning a Redmen punt 33 yards to the 7.
“I challenged our kids that this was going to be a game where we face adversity. How are we going to respond when Rock Hill puts something together and we have something negative happen? Every time Rock Hill scored, we answered,” said Ruby. “The kids rose to that challenge and did a good job.”
“Every time we had an answer, Minford had an answer right back,” said Lutz. “I kept hoping for us to have something happen in the second half that would get us jump-started, but it didn’t. Then we turned into a MASH unit in the second half. I had to explain to the kids what MASH was.”
The Redmen must get healthy in a hurry now too, as Rock Hill hosts another spread-the-field formation team in Meigs on Friday night.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, and I’m not going to feel sorry for ourselves,” said Lutz. “We’re not going to make excuses. We just have to get better and that begins with me.”
The Falcons will travel to Chesapeake next week, as the Panthers – an injury-plagued team last year – opened their season with a 35-13 victory over Oak Hill.
Chesapeake is coached by former Rock Hill head coach Todd Knipp.
“Next week will be a totally different challenge for us altogether. It is going to be a much different offensive scheme, so we have to get lined up correctly and be able to read our keys,” said Ruby. “They are going to do some things to cause us some issues, but we have to prepare this week and respond and adjust accordingly.”
* * *
Minford 43, Rock Hill 12
Rock Hill 0 0 12 0 – 12
Minford 14 8 7 14 – 43
M — Ty Wiget, 81-yard kickoff return (Caleb Yuhas kick), 11:44, 1st (7-0 M)
M — Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, 4-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 1:00, 1st (14-0 M)
M — Drew Skaggs, 14-yard pass from Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis run), :37, 2nd (22-0 M)
RH — Brayden Friend, 36-yard run (pass failed), 9:36, 3rd (22-6 M)
M — Ty Wiget, 2-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 2:00, 3rd (29-6 M)
RH — Logan Hankins, 2-yard run (run failed), :23, 3rd (29-12 M)
M — Matthew Risner, 37-yard pass from Elijah-Vogelsong Lewis (Caleb Yuhas kick), 10:51, 4th (36-12 M)
M — Ty Wiget, 68-yard run (Caleb Yuhas kick), 4:55, 4th (43-12 M)
First downs 17 18
Plays from scrimmage 59 40
Rushes-yards 54-260 23-148
Passing yards 13 163
Total yards 273 311
Cmp-Att-Int. 1-5-0 10-17-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 9-85 6-40
Punts-average 3-27.7 1-34
RUSHING —Rock Hill: Logan Hankins 17-94 TD, Brayden Friend 10-66 TD, T.J. McGinnis 12-53, Hayden Harper 6-25, Skyler Kidd 3-17, Chase Delong 4-8, Kordell French 1-3, Trenton Williams 1-(-6); Minford: Ty Wiget 14-121 2TD, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 4-22 TD, Matthew Risner 2-8, Andy Crank 2-2, Team 1-(-5)
PASSING — Rock Hill: Brayden Friend 1-5-0-13; Minford: Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 10-17-0-163 2TD
RECEIVING — Rock Hill: Logan Hankins 1-13; Minford: Matthew Risner 4-72, Drew Skaggs 3-47 TD, Ty Wiget 2-36, Bryson Ashley 1-8
|August 30, 2019||7:00 pm||SEO||2019||Big plays, speed spark Falcons' win over Redmen|