ALBANY — The Nelsonville-York Buckeyes were looking for a spark.
Dakota Inman provided one.
Inman had a pair of first-half interceptions, returning the first for a touchdown, helping the Buckeyes to a shutout 35-0 win at a rain-soaked Alexander High School on Friday.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Buckeyes, who improved to 5-3 overall and a perfect 4-0 in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division.
The Buckeyes had a series of big plays that helped them pull away from the Spartans (2-6, 0-5 TVC-Ohio).
It was Inman’s pick-six that allowed the Buckeyes to take a two-score lead.
N-Y led just 7-0 into the second quarter, and the Spartans were on the move.
Alexander drove 58 yards on nine plays, advancing the ball out of the shadow of its goal line.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Schulz completed four passes on the drive, and appeared that he might have a fifth on a third-and-seven play from the N-Y 37-yard line.
Schulz delivered a pass toward the Buckeyes’ sideline that could have potentially been caught for a first down.
Instead the ball was popped up into the air, and into Inman’s waiting arms.
He sprinted down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown, and a 13-0 lead with 6:58 left in the first half.
“That was a big momentum shift with Dakota,” Nelsonville-York coach Rusty Richards said. “He’s been starting for us for two years now. We were playing sloppy up to that time, penalties. We had touchdowns called back. That sort of sparked us a little bit.”
The Spartans had all three of their first downs on that drive, and never crossed midfield again against the Buckeyes’ defense.
“When you’re playing a team like Nelsonville, you can’t have any mistakes,” Alexander coach Danny Koska said. “You have to play an absolutley perfect game because they’re a heck of a ball team and a heck of a program.”
Alexander had been hanging tough to that point. Samual Ohms recovered a fumble to end a drive at the Buckeyes’ 15-yard line in the first quarter. N-Y also had a drive end at Alexander’s 5-yard line when the defense stopped N-Y quarterback Drew Carter on a fourth-and-short sneak up the middle.
“We’re the youngest team in the TVC and these kids are fighting,” Koska said. “It’s definitely something to look forward to. The kids are fighting and we’re improving every single week and it’s showing.”
The score remained 13-0 until the Buckeyes delivered another huge momentum swing against the Spartans.
Nelsonville-York drove down the field in the closing minutes in a driving rain. With six seconds left, Carter found Leighton Loge open in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown.
It was the second week in a row the Buckeyes scored with no time left on the first-half clock, giving them a 20-0 lead over Alexander.
“We just saw they were bringing a lot of heat at us,” Richards said. “Thought we had a good matchup there with Leighton Loge.”
The Buckeyes drove 75 yards in 10 plays, taking the final 2:13 off the clock.
Nelsonville-York then scored to open the third quarter, going ahead 27-0 on Hudson Stalder’s 19-yard touchdown run.
Stalder led N-Y’s ground attack with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
The Buckeyes finished with 343 yards of total offense, 235 coming on the ground.
Nelsonville-York’s second drive of the second half also ended in points, going ahead 33-0 after Jared Justice’s 1-yard run capped off a 60-yard drive.
The scoring concluded on a fourth-quarter safety after Alexander couldn’t handle a snap on a punt in the rainy weather. The Spartans fell on the ball in the end zone, making it 35-0.
The Spartans had negative-21 yards rushing, forcing Schulz to the air 18 times in the wet conditions.
Schulz completed five of those passes for 69 yards, lifting Alexander’s total yardage count to 48.
“Anytime you have a team that can throw the ball, and this kid can sling it around, it’s nice to make them one dimensional,” Richards said.
The Buckeyes had two drives into Alexander territory that didn’t result in points in the first half. But they also had a short field for their first score after Nathan Martin blocked a punt.
That set up Stalder’s 10-yard run, and 7-0 lead in the opening quarter.
Carter completed 9 of 15 passes for 108 yards for the Buckeyes, with Makhi Williams catching four passes for 39 yards. Loge had two receptions for 28 yards.
For the Spartans, Landen Althouse had a 30-yard reception, while Colton Ashcraft caught two passes for 22 yards.
Alexander has its home finale this week against South Gallia, and will honor its senior class.
The Spartans are young, with 20 sophomores and freshmen on the roster, but Koska said getting a win for their eight seniors is the top order at hand.
“The biggest thing next week is sending these seniors off with a win,” Koska said. “It’s their last home game here. We’ve got to send them off with a win.”
The Buckeyes face their most important TVC-Ohio game of the season, as Vinton County comes to Boston Field.
The Vikings are 3-0 in the TVC-Ohio after a 45-0 win over River Valley on Friday.
Vinton County is playing for its first league title since 1999, while the Buckeyes are trying to recapture the top spot after losing it to Wellston a year ago.
“It’s here and I’m sure we’ll have their focus this week,” Richards said. “Glad to get it on and we’ll play for another TVC championship.”
Nelsonville-York 35, Alexander 0
Nelsonville-York 7 13 13 2 — 35
Alexander 0 0 0 0 — 0
NY — Hudson Stalder, 10-yard run (Landon Inman kick), 6:03, 1st
NY — Dakota Inman, 69-yard interception return (kick blocked), 6:58, 2nd
NY — Leighton Loge, 11-yard pass from Drew Carter (Landon Inman kick), 0:00, 2nd
NY — Hudson Stalder, 19-yard run (Landon Inman kick), 9:48, 3rd
NY — Jared Justice, 1-yard run (kick failed), 3:39, 3rd
NY — Safety, 5:43, 4th
First downs 19 3
Plays from scrimmage 52 35
Rushing (plys-yds) 37-235 17-(-21)
Passing yards 108 69
Total net yards 343 48
Passes (cmp-att-int) 9-15-0 5-18-2
Fumbles (no-lost) 6-1 2-1
Penalties (no-yds) 6-48 3-19
Punts (no-avg) 1-26 2-29
Nelsonville-York — Hudson Stalder 16-158 2 TDs, Drew Carter 7-37, Landon Inman 3-21, Gavin Richards 5-16, Makhi Williams 1-6, Jared Justice 1-1 TD, Jacob Jones 2-4, Reiston Richards 1-2, TEAM 1-(-10); Alexander — Landon Hornsby 4-7, Isaac Waller 5-5, Brody Montgomery 1-(-4), Jordan Schulz 6 (-21), TEAM 1-(-8).
Nelsonville-York — Drew Carter 9-15-0-108 TD; Alexander — Jordan Schulz 5-18-2-69.
Nelsonville-York — Makhi Williams 4-38, Leighton Loge 2-28 TD, Landon Inman 1-20, Jared Justice 1-16, Reiston Richards 1-5; Alexander — Landen Althouse 1-30, Colton Ashcraft 2-22, Brody Montgomery 1-13, Isaac Waller 1-4.