By NICK VLAHOS
For The Weekly Post
ONEIDA – From the ROWVA-Williamsfield perspective, its football showdown against Stark County couldn’t have begun more perfectly. But as the game progressed, so did the imperfections.
Stark County twice matched R-W touchdowns, then took a lasting lead in the fourth quarter of a 24-14 victory Sept. 29 at Bill Adams Field.
R-W fell to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the LincolnLand Conference small division ahead of a trip Friday night to Rushville-Industry. Stark County remained undefeated (6-0, 5-0) and secured a playoffs berth.
Adrian Manzano-Garcia’s 29-yard field goal with 8:49 remaining in the game gave the Rebels a 17-14 lead. Stark County scored again with 1:44 left, on a 1-yard touchdown run by Luke Rewerts after teammate Braden Lindley intercepted a Riley Danner pass.
Nolan Orwig had a 54-yard carry to help enable Rewerts’ score, which culminated an eight-play drive that began at the Stark County 7-yard line. Orwig finished with a game-high 253 rushing yards on 27 carries, including two for touchdowns.
“That last drive was obviously a backbreaker,” R-W Coach Grant Gullstrand said. “One of our goals was to finish drives, and we flat-out did not do that. That was kind of the difference in the game. … Too many mistakes on our part.”
In the beginning, it appeared the Cougars might be on their way to beating the Rebels for the third time in one year, including in the first round of the 2022 Class 1A playoffs.
On this game’s second play from scrimmage, R-W senior Bryan Bertlshofer ran 53 yards into the end zone. Kole Miller’s extra-point kick gave R-W a 7-0 lead after less than one minute.
“That’s not how you draw it up on our side,” Stark County Coach Jade Noard said.
But on their second drive, the Cougars received a holding penalty and two false-start penalties, then punted from their 21. Three plays into the subsequent Stark County possession, Orwig broke multiple tackle attempts during a 45-yard touchdown run at 4:13 that tied the game, 7-7.
Overall, R-W was penalized nine times, including four holds.
“We had a lot of holding penalties that kind of put us behind the (down) chains and stalled some drives out,” Gullstrand said. “It’s tough to stay ahead of the sticks when we’re getting penalties like that.”
As the third quarter began, Talan Hull intercepted a Rewerts pass. That led to another R-W lead, at 8:30 on a 4-yard pass from Danner to Spencer Brown. But Orwig capped the ensuing 13-play drive with a tying 4-yard TD run.
Bertlshofer had 148 yards on 16 carries. Danner passed for 133 yards.
Princeville 34, South Fulton 32
ASTORIA – Extra points matter. Even in a game filled with long scoring passes and runs, what happens after the touchdown is often vital to success.
Last Friday, the Princes made two conversions. South Fulton made one. That was enough for Princeville (4-2, 4-1) to return from Fulton County a winner after a wild LincolnLand small-division road game.
Princeville scored on a 1-yard run by Logan Carruthers in the fourth quarter and then added a Carruthers pass to Josh Hunt on the extra point. Those were the winning points after South Fulton (2-4, 2-3) scored on a 65-yard pass in the fourth quarter but failed on its two-point try.
The Princes were able to run out the clock by converting a fourth-and-5 pass from Carruthers to Jake Williams on the Princeville 35-yard line.
“Jake made a guy miss and picked up the first down,” Coach Jon Carruthers said. “That was a big play.”
And it came in a game of big plays for the Princes, who also scored on a 48-yard pass to Hunter Johnson, a 91-yarder to Williams and a 37-yard run by Tayshaun Kieser.
“We got the running game going in the second half to kind of spark things,” Coach Carruthers said. “That’s when our offense gets going, when you can get the defense back on its heels a little bit.”
Logan Carruthers finished with 249 passing yards on 12 completions – with seven and 145 yards going to Williams, who filled in at QB for three weeks before returning to his previous wideout position last week.
Kieser ran for 116 yards on 15 carries and added 37 receiving yards on his TD catch.
Princeville was without injured defensive stalwart Denzel Garza, and coaches praised Zach Stalter for stepping up in his place.
Coach Carruthers had to watch on the NFHS Network after an ejection the previous week. That left Brian Wonders in charge during the game.
“He did a real good job,” Coach Carruthers said.
Next up for Princeville is Friday’s game at league leader Stark County.
“Stark’s defense really flies around,” Coach Carruthers said. “And that Orwig, he’s a tough runner. He gets his shoulder pads over his toes and he goes.”
– Jeff Lampe
Annawan-Wethersfield (5-1, 5-1) scored on its first four possessions to rout winless Havana, 42-0.
A-W Quarterback Dillon Horrie ran for the first score and passed for three others and Zeb Rashid ran for two TDs. … Abingdon-Avon (1-5, 1-5) got its first win of the season at United (2-4, 1-4). United has lost four straight since its 2-0 start.
By NICK VLAHOS