A punishing Buckeye Valley rushing attack was too much to handle for the Bexley Lions as the Barons bullied their way to a 34-7 victory at home on Friday night.
First-quarter rushing touchdowns by quarterback Jeff Beverly and Alex Contreras had Buckeye Valley out and running early, and the Barons went on to pile up more than 350 yards on the ground as they improved to 3-2 on the season.
“It’s something we really want to be able to do. It was something we were trying to preach this week, that we thought that we could make some headway running the football,” Barons head coach Matt Stephens said following the game. “Running the football really takes the wind out of the defense’s sails, and I thought we established that.”
Buckeye Valley took the opening kickoff and went right to work, needing just five plays to cover 68 yards and score the opening points of the game. Three consecutive carries by receiver Alex Contreras had the Barons in business inside the Bexley 20-yard line, and Beverly finished off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown scamper to grab the early 7-0 lead.
In a quick hole, Bexley answered back with a scoring drive of its own. A big return by John Grimm on the ensuing kickoff had Bexley out across midfield to start the drive, and quarterback Jonathan Spies capped off a 10-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to draw the Lions even with 5:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Looking to regain the lead, Buckeye Valley continued to ride the running game, again engineering a quick but physical scoring drive. Garrett Carey’s kickoff return set up the Barons offense near midfield, and seven plays later, Contreras found the end zone from two yards out to put his team back in the lead.
Alex Landis’ extra point was good and Buckeye Valley owned a 14-7 led with 2:14 remaining in the first quarter.
Buckeye Valley appeared on the verge of increasing its lead to two scores early in the second quarter. Beverly’s 22-yard pass to Matt Hall had the Barons deep into Bexley territory, and two plays later, the Barons had a first down at the 12-yard line.
An ill-advised throw by Beverly was picked off by Bexley’s Trey Vollmer in the end zone, however, ending the Barons’ once promising drive and temporarily breathing new life into the Lions’ sideline.
Still owning a 14-7 lead, and with the first half clock winding down, Buckeye Valley was again on the move and threatening to extend its lead. Back-to-back connections by Beverly and Carey moved the ball to the Bexley 35-yard line, and a 19-yard pass to Contreras had the Barons at the 1-yard line as they called their final timeout of the half with just nine seconds on the clock.
Like the previous drive, Buckeye Valley would be turned away without points as a bad snap could not be handled by Beverly. With no timeouts remaining, the clock ran out on the scoring opportunity, sending the Barons into the locker room with a seven-point lead that was equal parts dominant and frustrating.
Bexley received the opening kickoff of the second quarter and quickly moved into Buckeye Valley territory. The drive would stall, however, and the Lions opted to punt the ball at the Barons 36-yard line. Following an effective punt that pinned Buckeye Valley back to its own 8-yard line, the Barons offense went to work, effectively putting the game away.
Facing a third down at his own 28, Beverly raced 56 yards for a first down at the Bexley 16. Three plays later, Jake Smothers capped of the 92-yard drive with 2-yard touchdown carry. Landis’ extra point increased Buckeye Valley’s lead to 28-7 late in the third quarter, and the Barons would cruise to the victory from there.
Beverly added a late touchdown pass to Dalton Dodds to round out the scoring and put the finishing touches on the win for a Buckeye Valley team that was in control from the opening kickoff.
“It’s always great to get that momentum going because once you have it, it’s hard to lose,” Stephens said of his team’s fast start. “That drive was nice, and I really thought coming out of the second half, with us kicking the ball to them, that was important for us to stop them and get the ball back. We were able to do that, and I’m really pleased with the kids’ effort tonight.”
Buckeye Valley will look to build on the performance when it travels to take on Columbus Academy Friday. Stephens praised his team’s resilience in bouncing back from previous losses this season, although he’d prefer a bounce back not be necessary.
“I’d really like to see us show up the next week and play a good football game,” he said. “But you have some games when you don’t show or you don’t play well, and it’s really important to refocus, go back to the fundamentals, and come out and play a well-executed game. I thought we did that, and now we have to do it next week.”