“We were not happy with the way we played last week at Westfall, and we wanted to come out and play more physical this week,” said Adena coach Paul Thomas. “Practice was very physical this week. We really wanted to control the line of scrimmage, and I felt like we played well up front on both sides of the ball.”
Adena got on the board first as it fought its way out of poor field position thanks to some hard, between-the-tackles running from junior Buddy Barnes. After Barnes carried five times in the drive’s first seven snaps, Adena quarterback Brandon Kinnamon hit Collin Uhrig on a quick-hitter and the senior – who picked up a great block from senior wide receiver Levi Merritt – dashed down the sideline and 57-yards later the Warrior wide out found the end zone to get the scoring underway. A Chris Welch PAT put Adena up 7-0.
Piketon’s high-octane offense, which entered week eight averaging over 40 points per game, needed little time to respond. The Redstreaks – who on the game’s opening drive seemed to move at will as they put together an 11-play drive only to see it stall inside the ten with a turnover-on-downs – now took over from their own 25 when Coach Tyler Gullion reached into his bags of tricks. Piketon quarterback Kenny Helton – who went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season Friday night – hit Jordan Brabson on what seemed to be a harmless, uneventful short-yardage completion out in the right flat, but as the Adena secondary converged, a streaking Keiffer Reed came flying out of the Piketon backfield taking the pitch from the nearly tackled Brabson and Reed sprinted away from the Warriors secondary for a 75-yard scoring strike. Piketon’s two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful allowing Adena to remain on top at 7-6.
“After the first score, we had trouble finding the big play,” said Gullion. “I thought we got a little impatient – myself as a play caller included – and started trying to force the action a little. We did have some success moving the ball, but there were some things we did not execute as well tonight as we had in previous weeks.”
The momentum seemed to continue with Piketon when the second snap of the pursing drive resulted in an Adena fumble – recovered by Piketon’s sophomore linebacker Ben Ervin who is one of five sophomores starting on Piketon’s defense this season – but Adena’s defense had other ideas. The first play following Piketon’s takeaway saw Adena’s defense take it back as Uhrig picked off a Helton pass just shy of midfield and the senior defensive back headed to the house. Helton entered week eight with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions, but this Uhrig returned pick and a Welch PAT had the two-shade blue out to a 14-6 advantage. Adena continued to control the game for most of the second quarter adding a Welch 26-yard FG with six-minutes to go to give the Warriors a 17-6 lead.
The pursuing kickoff seemed to result in an opportunity for Adena to really take the control of the scoreboard heading to the half, but an Adena penalty for interfering with a fair catch attempt gave Piketon great field position and Helton and the Redstreaks offense took advantage. Piketon executed an 11-play drive anchored by the hard running of Andrew Osburn. Osburn carried six times, moving the chains three times, and when Piketon reached the red zone the play fake to Osburn gave Helton time to find Caleb Southworth on a 13-yard touchdown toss. On the two-point conversion try, Helton again faked inside to Osburn and pitched to a speedy Tyler Tackett who found the end zone to trim the Adena lead to 17-14 at halftime.
The second half was all about Buddy Barnes and Adena’s ability to dominate the line of scrimmage. Running behind a great offensive line, Barnes took the game over. On the opening drive of half number two, the junior running back carried five times on the six-play scoring drive, scoring on a 26-yard run.
Adena’s next drive was more of the same. A steady dosage of Barnes started to bring the Piketon secondary closer and closer to the line of scrimmage, and Kinnamon took advantage faking the inside handoff and hooking up with Uhrig on a 36-yard pass play setting up another Barnes TD run. Kinnamon connected on two of his four passing attempts – both to Uhrig – for 93 yards and the one score.
“It’s no secret that we look to do most of our damage on the ground,” said Thomas of his offensive unit. “We do not throw it a lot, but when we do we usually have a chance for a big play. Our running game really forces teams to creep more people into the box and Brandon does a great job throwing the deep ball.”
Trailing 30-14, Piketon’s quick-strike ability still allowed them a chance to get back in the game, but it was a must that it happen on the pursuing drive – and it did. Piketon mixed the run and pass nicely moving the ball deep into Adena territory. The Redstreaks capped off the drive with a Helton to Brabson 11-yard TD pass play and an Osburn two-point conversion run cut the Adena lead in half at 30-22.
“We did a decent job of containing Piketon’s running attack,” said Thomas of his defense that contained Osburn to 70 yards on 17 carries. “We did struggle at times with their passing game. I felt like our defensive backs were in the right spot most of the time, we just were not able to make the plays. I give Piketon’s athletes credit. They made some plays and made it tough on our defense in the passing game.”
A rejuvenated Piketon team and crowd seemed as if its high-powered offense would get a chance to strike again, but Barnes just would not allow Adena drives to stall. Adena put together a nine-play drive in which the ball never went to the air as the Warriors rode Barnes and junior Jimmy Starr on a scoring drive that was capped off on a fourth-and-goal one-yard TD run by Barnes – his third of the night. On the night, Barnes carried it 28 times for 201 yards and those three scores, while his classmate Starr racked up 78 yards on only 8 carries and he also found the end zone later in the fourth quarter to put the game away for good.
“They just shoved it down our throats,” said Gullion when asked about Adena’s successful running attack in the second half. “They physically beat us up and we did not tackle very well. We now have to regroup and get ready for a great Westfall team next week.”
Adena (5-3, 4-1) returns home for senior night as it host Huntington, and the Warriors will hope Piketon (6-2, 4-1) can pull the upset in Williamsport to allow for a scenario for a tri-championship.