PIKETON – Ohio’s Week 4 of high school football action marks the kickoff of Scioto Valley Conference football. The match up that had Zane Trace traveling south to Piketon was touted as an important early season conference contest that both teams desperately needed if they had hopes of battling perennial power Williamsport Westfall for this year’s SVC title.
Although Zane Trace entered league play at 0-3, the Pioneers remained optimistic due to a tough trio of non-conference opponents (Waverly, Amanda Clearcreek and Hamilton Township). Piketon entered with a 2-1 record and an offense that was averaging over 40 points per game. Despite the rain and lightening – which caused nearly an hour delay in the fourth quarter – the two teams lit up the scoreboard Friday, but in the end it was Piketon that found a way to hold on and capture the SVC win 34-27.
“A win is a win,” Piketon head coach Tyler Gullion said. “That makes it three in row for us and hopefully gives us the confidence to continue to improve in the upcoming weeks.”
The scoring got underway in the first quarter when Zane Trace quarterback Beau Dailey executed a great option fake and sliced the defense for a 68-yard run. A Matt Miller PAT had the red, white and blue up 7-0.
On the pursuing drive, the high-powered Piketon offense overcame tough field position to put together a drive that lasted a little over six minutes and covered 82 yards. Using a mixture of the running of Keiffer Reed and Andrew Osburn as well as the passing of quarterback Kenny Helton, the Redstreaks consistently moved the chains. A five-yard touchdown run from Osburn capped the drive, however, the PAT was not good allowing ZT to remain in front 7-6.
After the Piketon defense forced a punt on the heels of a three-and-out, the Redstreak offense returned to the field with great field position. On the drive Piketon was facing a third-and-one from the Pioneer 48 when Osburn turned in possibly the play of the night.
The senior running back fought between the tackles for the first down, but refused to settle for just the short gain. Osburn shook off three would-be Zane Trace tacklers just a few yards past the line of scrimmage, and when he ran through one last shoe-string tackle attempt he busted it to the outside and picked up a great downfield block from wide receiver Jordan Brabson to complete what would eventually be a 48-yard touchdown run. Helton then hit Brabson for a two-point conversion to give Piketon the 14-7 advantage.
The Piketon momentum continued into the next possession. The Redstreak defense caused a Zane Trace fumble at midfield and once again the high-octane Piketon offense took the field with great field position. Helton and the offense would need only one snap to find the end zone, as Helton went up top to Caleb Southworth for a 53-yard score. This time the Brabsom PAT was good giving Piketon a 21-7 advantage.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the half, Zane Trace needed an answer for Piketon’s 21 unanswered points. The answer would come on the pursuing drive.
After a Kirk Maxwell return out to about the 40-yard line, Dailey went to work. While Dale McCullough and Ben Jones kept the Piketon defense honest with some hard running between the tackles, Dailey also went to the air on the drive.
Frequently using a no-huddle attack, the Pioneers quickened the game. The drive was keyed by big third down completions from Dailey to Dylan McGee and D.J. Merriman. In fact, when the connection of Dailey and Merriman hooked up for the third time on the drive it had the Pioneers looking at first-and-goal from the eight-yard line.
Thanks to a 13-yard TD run from McCullough and Miller’s PAT, the Pioneers cut the Piketon lead to 21-14. Te score stayed that way until halftime.
It did not take long for the scoring to start in the second half. With the rain starting to fall hard, the opening kickoff bounced off the shoulder pad of the Piketon return man and was recovered by Zane Trace. Just two plays into the ensuing drive, Dailey went up top to Miller – who at 6-foot-4 is also an All-Ohioan goalie for the state-ranked Zane Trace soccer program – and the Pioneer wide out went up and took it away from the well-positioned Redstreak defender. The missed PAT kept Piketon in the lead at 21-20.
That is as close as Zane Trace would get, as Piketon got two more TD runs from Osburn and appeared to have the Pioneers put away with just under 10 minutes to go in the game when lightening was spotted and the teams were sent to the locker room for a 30-minute delay. When the teams came back out, Dailey led his Pioneer offense on a drive that eventually was capped off when the senior signal-caller called his own number on a TD run that cut the Piketon lead to just a touchdown, 34-27.
After a three-and-out, Zane Trace actually got the ball back with a chance to tie, but a Jordan Miller sack of Dailey would eventually force Zane Trace to turn it over on downs and Piketon held on for the victory.
“We didn’t handle the delay very well,” Gullion said. “We had some momentum when they sent the kids in, and we came back out a little flat. I give the kids credit because they found a way to make some plays down the stretch to get the win.”
Piketon accumulated over 400 total yards – 300 of those coming on the ground. Osburn led the way with 167 yards on 18 carries and Reed chipped in 79 yards on 17 carries.
Dailey was outstanding in keeping the Pioneers in the game, as the Zane Trace quarterback had over 200 total yards and three total touchdowns.
“Keiffer and (running back Tyler) Tackett give us speed to the outside, and Andrew (Osburn) really gives us a threat between the tackles,” Gullion said. “It all starts up front with a solid offensive line and Kenny (quarterback Kenny Helton) does a great job getting us in the right stuff. I feel like our offense is really starting to get healthy and that gives us a lot of options in trying to attack a defense.”
Zane Trace (0-4, 0-1) and head coach Gary Peters travel to Huntington next week, while Piketon (3-1, 1-0) will travel to Unioto.
Huntington defeated Unioto in SVC play Friday night 47-8 on the strength of four touchdown passes from quarterback Josh Kellough. Preseason favorite Westfall got a win at Paint Valley 35-7 to improve to 4-0 and Adena beat Southeastern 44-21.