Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Oct. 6 newspaper on Page B1.
Athens coach Nathan White was left searching for the right words after the Bulldogs’ 46-20 loss to the visiting Logan Chieftains on Friday at R. Basil Rutter Field.
“The game of football is so strange,” White said. “It’s just one of those nights where we couldn’t get out of our own way and I don’t have an explanation for it.”
The Bulldogs were plagued by miscues during their non-league game against Logan. Athens finished the game with six turnovers, and felt like it left numerous big plays on the field.
“It’s just one of those nights where you feel like nothing is going right and I hate saying that because it feels like you’re making excuses,” White said. “But that’s what it felt like.”
Logan was happy to take advantage, scoring 29 points after Athens turnovers.
Athens quarterback Joey Moore completed 12 of 28 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown, but threw four interceptions. The Bulldogs also lost two fumbles, one coming on a kickoff return.
Logan (2-4) scored 32 points in a row at one point to lead 39-7 late into the third quarter. The Chieftains have now won two games in a row after a program-record 11-game losing streak, and also snapped a two-game losing streak in the series to Athens (2-4).
Logan tailback Caden McCarty and quarterback Braeden Spatar combined to lead the Chiefs’ offensive attack. McCarty gained 146 yards on 23 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Spatar completed 7 of 9 passes for 90 yards and a score, adding 90 more yards and another touchdown on the ground.
“I think what you’re seeing is the growth and maturity of the offense,” Logan coach Mike Eddy said. “We were able to do a lot of different things tonight and constantly give different looks and in doing so still run just a handful of plays but run them out of a variety of formations and be able to get the kind of looks we want and just be efficient.”
Perhaps the biggest momentum swing occurred right before halftime. Logan had just gone ahead 17-7 after a Zach Chapin 24-yard field goal with 2:02 on the clock.
The Bulldogs nearly answered with a big play, a receiver running wide open down the middle of the field on the ensuing drive.
Moore put the ball on the money, but it was dropped. What could have potentially been a 72-yard scoring strike turned into an interception for Logan’s Colten Castle on the very next play.
The Chiefs would turn that interception into a 35-yard scoring drive, leading 25-7 after Spatar found Castle for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds left in the half. Logan went for the 2-point conversion, and converted when Spatar against successfully targeted Castle.
Athens had at least three occasions in the first half when a receiver appeared to be open for a touchdown, only to result in a dropped pass. The Bulldogs also had a long gain to inside the five-yard line on a successful hook-and-ladder play called back late in the half due to a holding penalty.
“It felt like we were doing stuff the right way and putting our kids in positions to make plays,” White said. “Again, the guys that always make plays for us, it just didn’t happen tonight. Proud of their effort. I think our defense especially played their guts out. Offensively, we couldn’t give our defense enough momentum to kind of keep that thing rolling at a certain point.”
Athens wasn’t able to mount a comeback in the second half, as another dropped pass deep over the middle short-circuited a potential scoring drive in the third quarter.
Logan then essentially put the game away with back-to-back scoring drives. McCarty’s eight-yard scoring run capped off a five-play, 61-yard drive for a 32-7 edge.
Logan then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and drove 55 yards in 11 plays, going ahead 39-7 on Jared Justice’s one-yard plunge.
“It really just snowballed,” White said. “It felt like we couldn’t get out of our own way, is the best way that I can say it.”
Athens got to within 39-14 when Moore found Nate Trainer for an 82-yard touchdown pass, but another turnover would lead to Logan’s final points.
Castle’s second interception was returned 60 yards to the end zone, allowing Logan to lead 46-14 with 5:50 to play.
“We got lucky a few times there early until we got that stuff fixed… once it got fixed, then we were able to go out and just play some solid defense,” Eddy said of the Chiefs’ coverage in the secondary. “We weren’t able to create as much pressure as we wanted to on the quarterback, but we were able to create enough and make (Moore) throw the ball underneath.”
Trainer finished with 161 yards on five catches, while Braeden Halbert caught a 50-yard touchdown pass in the first half, but the Bulldogs weren’t able to gain much traction on the ground. Logan held Athens to 34 yards on 19 carries.
The rivalry game with Logan now in the past, Athens can turn its total attention on Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play. The Bulldogs are still 2-0 in the league and have nothing but conference opponents the rest of the way.
“There is no other goal. We have to try and go beat Meigs and make it 3-0,” White said. “It’s a brand new season. It’s a four-week season and there’s a ton to play for still.”
Craig Dunn of the Logan Daily News contributed to this report.
Logan 46, Athens 20
Logan 7 18 14 7 — 46
Athens 0 7 0 13 — 20
L — Braeden Spatar, 2-yard run (Zach Chapin kick), 4:54, 1st
A — Braeden Halbert, 50-yard pass from Joey Moore (Drake George kick), 11:04, 2nd
L — Caden McCarty, 1-yard run (Zach Chapin kick), 8:38, 2nd
L — Zach Chapin, 24-yard field goal, 2:02, 2nd
L — Colten Castle, 12-yard pass from Braeden Spatar (Colten Castle pass from Braeden Spatar), :26, 2nd
L — Caden McCarty, 8-yard run (Zach Chapin kick), 6:27, 3rd
L — Jared Justice, 1-yard run (Zach Chapin kick), :31, 3rd
A — Nate Trainer, 82-yard pass from Joey Moore (Drake George kick), 7:03, 4th
L — Colten Castle, 60-yard interception return (Zach Chapin kick), 5:50, 4th
A — Landon Wheatley, 3-run run (run failed), 1:49, 4th
First downs 16 12
Plays from scrimmage 60 50
Rushing (plys-yds) 51-285 19-34
Passing yards 90 294
Total net yards 375 328
Passes (cmp-att-int) 7-9-0 13-31-4
Fumbles (no-lost) 1-1 3-2
Penalties (no-yds) 12-97 8-65
Punts (no-avg) 3-32.3 3-21.6
Logan — Caden McCarty 23-146 2 TDs, Braeden Spatar 14-90 TD, Jonny McClelland 4-31, Traten Poling 3-13, Jared Justice 3-5 TD, Ian Frasure 2-3, Colton Ruff 1-2, TEAM 3-(-5); Athens — Landon Wheatley 3-14 TD, Ishmael Young 1-9, Peyton Gail 3-7, Nate Trainer 4-4, Joey Moore 7-0, Robby Brice 1-0
Logan — Braeden Spatar 7-9-0-90 TD; Athens — Joey Moore 12-28-4-258 2 TDs, Landon Wheatley 1-3-0-36
Logan — Colten Castle 2-55 TD, Jonny McClelland 2-18, Garrett Mace 2-10, Ian Frasure 1-7; Athens — Nate Trainer 5-161 TD, Braeden Halbert 1-50 TD, Levi Neal 1-36, Brayden Markins 3-30, Corbin Stalder 2-10, Peyton Gail 1-7