The Logan High School football team had a sound game plan for Friday night’s season opener with the county rival Man Hillbillies.
One, make the big play on offense.
Two, put some pressure on Man’s freshman quarterback John Thomas Keffer, who was making his first varsity start.
Three, contain Man’s running attack to make the Billies’ young signal-caller put the ball into the air.
Four, force Man into turnovers and then take full advantage of them.
And five, win the game.
It all added up to a 33-0 win by Logan over Man before a capacity Logan Stadium crowd.
Logan forced Man into seven costly turnovers in the game, including picking Keffer four times, one of which went for a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Clayton Marcum.
The Wildcats started off the game with a bang as Brant Williams returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. After kicker Brian Craft’s extra point, Logan led 7-0 just like that, only 12 seconds into the game.
The rout was on.
The ball even seemed to bounce Logan’s way.
With Logan leading 14-0 in the second quarter, the Wildcats averted disaster when a snap went way over punter Craft’s head into the end zone. It looked like it would be a sure safety — or maybe even a touchdown for the Billies — but Craft was able to scramble back for the ball in the end zone, avoid the Man defenders and get the punt off for a net 16 yards to the Logan 44-yard line.
It eventually saved Logan’s shutout.
It could have easily been at least a two-point safety for Man.
All in all, Logan coach Gary Mullins was pleased with the win. Logan beat Man for the third straight year and improved to 11-3 vs. the Billies since 1999.
“I don’t think we were as crisp as we wanted to be,” said Mullins, now in his ninth year at Logan. “But overall, it was 33-0 and we did a lot of things well. We just need to get a little bit better in a couple of places. It would have made us look a little bit smoother but I think it was evident that we looked really explosive. We got a lot of guys that if they get a step they are gone. Man made some touchdown-saving tackles on some of our players and we felt that we were a step away from really looking good offensively. We’ll take it.”
Mullins praised his defense for holding the young Billies out of the end zone.
“Our defense was tremendous,” he said. “We set this up for our front seven to try and tackle the run. I thought that we did great all night long.”
If there was a turning point in the game it had to be in the third quarter.
Trailing 20-0 at the half, Man began to drive down field in its first possession of the third quarter.
A score by the Billies would have tightened things up.
But on a third-and-nine play at the Logan 48 Keffer was picked off by Clayton Marcum, who then raced 60 yards to the house for a touchdown. After Craft’s PAT it was 27-0 Logan with 7:39 left in the quarter.
Pretty much any hope Man had left was certainly gone by then.
“That was a big play,” Mullins said. “He stepped right into that slant route. That sealed the game pretty much right there with that one. Chris Marcum and Tyler Workman both had great interceptions, too. Worm Street did a great job out of the secondary tackling and C.J. Williams also did a good job tackling. Defensively, we were pretty solid tonight. It’s only one game but we have to get better. But I’d rather be 1-0 than 0-1.”
Brant Williams set the tone early with his return for a touchdown on the opening kick.
“We had put Khaleel back deep but we also had Brant and Worm,” Mullins said. “We feel like our specials teams are good. We feel like if we don’t win on special teams we will probably lose the game.”
Late in the first quarter, Man running back Braden Griffin fumbled the ball away near midfield. It was picked up by Chris Marcum, who then returned it 36 yards to the Billies’ 11-yard line.
Three plays later, fullback Tyler Vernatter plunged in for a 2-yard touchdown run. With Craft’s successful extra point boot Logan led 14-0 with 58 ticks to go in the first quarter.
Craft then saved Logan by scooping the bad long snap out of the end zone and getting off a punt under heavy pressure. Mullins said he was hoping for the best — Craft to intentionally kick the ball out of the back of the end zone, giving Man a two-point safety instead of possibly giving up six. Craft then surprised everyone in the stadium by somehow and someway getting the kick away — a virtual impossibility.
“How many team’s punters could have gotten that one off?” Mullins said. “Last year, he would have never have gotten that punt off. He wasn’t confident enough to do that. Even when we had a bad snap there he made it a positive for us. That preserved the shutout for us. We were yelling for him to kick it out of the end zone for a safety. But he got it out. He’s a great kid and he works so hard. He kicks every day. He could probably help us on the offensive and defensive lines but we need him so much for kicking. He’s OK with that. He says, ‘Whatever we need for the team.’ I love Brian Craft.”
Craft also came into the game late on defense and sacked Keffer.
“He played one play and got a sack. He showed us that he can do everything,” Mullins said.
After Craft’s punt out of the end zone Man took over at the Logan 44. The drive stalled, however, as a fourth-and-nine run by Keffer was stopped for no gain at the 33.
Later, Logan’s Cade Doss recovered a Man fumble at the Wildcat 29.
Six plays later, Vernatter scored on a 1-yard TD run with 30 ticks to go. Craft’s PAT sailed wide left but Logan led 20-0. The score was set up by QB Chris Marcum’s 26-yard run to the 16 and Vernatter’s 13-yard rumble to the 3.
Man tried to get a few plays going before the break but Keffer was picked off by Chris Marcum as the half ended.
In the third quarter, Clayton Marcum’s 60-yard pick six made it a 27-0 ballgame after three quarters.
Man looked to get right back into it as Justin Cantrell ran for a 25-yard gain on a fake punt play on the Billies’ own 17-yard line, setting up a first-and-10 at the 38. But seven plays later, Logan’s Tyler Workman intercepted Keffer at the Man 40. He returned it 20 yards to the Logan 40 but fumbled it right back to the Billies.
Man was later able to drive to the Logan 36 but Keffer was once again picked off by Chris Marcum with 8:04 left at the 33.
The Wildcats had to punt but scored on their next possession as Worm Street raced down the sideline for a 43-yard touchdown run with 4:48 left in the game. The PAT attempt failed as the snap to Logan’s holder went high and kicker Craft was tackled with the ball.
Logan then emptied its bench and held on for the shutout over the Class A Billies.
“We’ve got a lot of good seniors and we’re glad to be 1-0,” Mullins said.
Chris Marcum finished the game 7-for-12 passing for 51 yards.
Reynolds had three catches for 21 yards. Josh Rein had two catches for 17 yards. Kade Doss added a grab for nine yards. Worm Street had one catch for four yards.
Logan rushed 26 times for 185 yards and outgained Man 236-182 in total offense.
Street had six carries for 69 yards to lead the way. Vernatter had 10 attempts for 38 yards, while Chris Marcum ran twice for 29 yards.
Reynolds had two totes for 18 yards. Chase Burnette had one rush for 12 yards while Nick Christian had one carry for 10 yards. Skyler Miller and Chris Browning had one carry each for three yards. Backup quarterback Ryan Miller had one try for two yards. Matt Cox had one attempt for one yard.
Vernatter led the Logan defense with 13 total tackles. Thomas Hunter, Teddy Nelson and Nick Turner had 10 tackles each. Cade Doss had eight stops, while Chris Marcum had seven, Worm Street six and Jacob Browning five.
T.J. Tomblin, Brant Williams, Clayton Marcum and Workman all had four tackles. Craft, Preston Hepler, Brian Ball and Browning all had three tackles. C.J. Williams had two tackles. Skyler Miller had one stop.
On special teams, Craft and Workman had two tackles apiece. Hunter, Chris Marcum, Vernatter, Ball and Browning had one tackle.
Doss, Worm Street, Jeremiah Spears and Chris Marcum each caused a fumble. Marcum, Doss and Stephen Dilly each had a fumble recovery.
Clayton Marcum had two pass breakups. Doss, C.J. Williams and Browning each broke up a pass.
Brant Williams, Craft and Vernatter each had a sack.
Man had 135 rushing yards for the game. Keffer was 6-for-22 passing for 47 yards.
Griffin rushed 21 times for 74 yards. Noah Maynard had seven carries for 21 yards. Fullback Neal Mullins was held to 18 yards on nine attempts.
David Belcher had two catches for 12 yards while Mullins had one grab for 14 yards. Dakota Toth, Gage Harvey and Cantrell had one catch each.
On defense, the Billies were led by Tracy Jones who had nine tackles. Jeremiah Beavers had six and two tackles for loss. Mullins had four tackles and two tackles for loss. Cantrell, Robert Caudill and Toth all had four tackles.
Belcher, Marcus Murrell and Griffin all had three tackles for Man. Joe Caudill, Harvey and Maynard each had two stops. Keffer, Caleb Adkins and Tyler Vance had one tackle each.
Toth added a sack and a tackle for loss. Joe Caudill also had a tackle for loss.
“I thought our front seven did a great job stopping the run, and our secondary guys were in the right spot all night,” Coach Mullins said. “Our kickoff team was great. They flew around to the ball all night.”
Logan (1-0) is scheduled to host new Class AAA team Shady Spring next Friday night in Logan’s annual Hall of Fame Game. Shady was idle in Week 1 of the season.
Man (0-1) will try and get in the win column next Friday night at home as Mount View comes to town in the Billies’ home opener. The Golden Knights lost 26-0 at River View in their season opener on Friday night as MV’s state-longest losing skid hit 28 games.