FRANKLIN FURNACE — When Green and East meet on the gridiron, you may as well throw the team’s records, the series history, current and former players, and current head coaches out the window — because it’s bound to be a close contest.
For the third straight season, the two Southern Ohio Conference Division I programs separated by just 10 miles played to a one-score final in a matchup of previously-winless teams entering the season’s fifth week.
Unlike the previous two seasons, however, it was the Tartans which bested the Bobcats 22-14 — earning their first win over Green since 2017.
The win is also the first for first-year head coach Adam Bailey, who also serves as East’s athletic director and boys basketball coach.
The Tartans were successful in large part due to their ball control and key contributions from junior running back Leviticus Justice, sophomore quarterback Austin Baughman, and sophomore Landehn Pernell — both on the ground and in the air.
“I thought in the second half we were where we wanted to be offensively,” Bailey said following the win. “We were controlling the ball, controlling the clock. That’s what we came in wanting to do. We were getting hats on people, blocking up front to give us that surge. I thought Levi (Justice) and (Landehn) Pernell did a good job running the ball and Austin (Baughman) did a good job running the show.”
In total, East ran 52 plays from scrimmage for a season-high 320 yards of offense — 235 coming on the ground and 85 through the air.
Justice was the Tartans’ leading ballcarrier in the win, rushing 17 times for 140 yards and scoring two of East’s three scores — one on a 30-yard pass from Baughman that got scoring started in the late first quarter and another in the late third to help extend their lead to two possessions.
Pernell carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards, including East’s second touchdown on a one-yard punch-in after Baughman connected with freshman Matthew Flannery for a 22-yard pass to the Bobcats’ one.
Justice said following the win it was their team’s determination to get better that helped decide their fate in week five.
“We came in wanting to be better than last week, because we played a pretty good game last week,” he said. “But we knew we had to play better, that’s what we’re trying to do each week — be better.”
Baughman finished as the game’s leading passer, connecting on four-of-seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.
On the opposite side of the ball taking snaps for most of the night was Bobcats senior Ethan Huffman.
Huffman, who became Green’s lone senior earlier this season, was able to showcase his explosiveness and even in a loss, managed to keep the Bobcats in the game.
The senior receiver-turned-quarterback was the game’s leading ballcarrier, rushing 27 times for a game-high 179 yards and two scores.
The first of Huffman’s two scores — a two-yard pickup on his 17th carry of the night — helped Green tie the game at 6-6 with 8:41 left in the second.
Each team failed its first two-point try of the night.
Huffman scored his second touchdown with 3:47 remaining on a 33-yard sprint up the sideline — and even managed to convert the two-point try himself, cutting East’s lead to 22-14 with under four to play.
Kaleb LaFollette had 10 carries for 52 yards — most of which came on jet-sweep plays as the Bobcats attempted to stretch out East’s defense.
An onside-kick recovery for Green on the ensuing kickoff meant the Bobcats indeed had a chance to tie the game, but unable to pick up a fourth-down conversion attempt from the East 20-yard line, the Tartans were able to take a knee and end it.
While it was Huffman’s first game of the season under center, and last on the Bobcats’ home field in Franklin Furnace, first-year Green coach Chad Coffman said there were definitely some memories coming out of Friday night’s game — and the performance his senior undertook.
“It came together tonight that we got him out there, showed what he can do,” Coffman said. “It’s exciting tonight, thinking tonight that it’s his last game on this field. Other than the end result, definitely have some memories from tonight.”
Despite not using him at quarterback in their prior four games, Bailey believed that coming into Friday’s game that the Bobcats may have a wrinkle or two up their sleeve in terms of getting their playmakers the ball in space.
“We had a suspicion that they might do some different things offensively against us,” Bailey said. “We went over it a little bit. At times we didn’t handle it real well, but I think as the game went on we adjusted to it better.”
As of Friday night, Green (0-5) will conclude its 2020 season with a road trip to Beaver to face Eastern (4-1).
Green was one of several Division VII member schools in the OHSAA to opt out of the 2020 playoffs, despite the rule change for this season which granted every team a right to participate in the postseason — if they so desired.
For Coffman and his young team, the work continues of laying a foundation for their program in years to come.
“If we were getting ready to play the best team in Ohio, we’d treat that week the same — trying to get better fundamentally, put together a gameplan, and everything that goes into it. Normally you don’t get younger as the year goes on, but we have. We’ve got some tough kids that play and work really hard. They’re really starting to buy into the concept that they’re a group, that they’re a family.”
East will conclude its 2020 regular season with a road rivalry game against Notre Dame, another game you can throw out the record-books when the two teams meet.
And, of course, the Tartans will find out on Sunday in their OHSAA playoff seeding for Division VII where they’ll be traveling to on Friday, Oct. 9 — for their first playoff game since the 2017 season.
“We want to get better every week — I think we’ve accomplished that for the most part,” Bailey said. “We’re extremely young, anytime we can play a game and get better, it’s a good thing for us going forward.”
East — 6 8 8 0 — 22
Green — 0 6 0 8 — 14
E — Leviticus Justice, 30-yard pass from Austin Baughman (2-point try failed), 1:07 1Q (6-0 E)
G — Ethan Huffman, 2-yard run (2-point try failed), 8:41 2Q (6-6 tie)
E — Landehn Pernell, 1-yard run (Leviticus Justice converts 2-point try), 3:09 2Q (14-6 E)
E — Leviticus Justice, 5-yard run (Austin Baughman converts 2-point try), 4:55 3Q (22-6 E)
G — Ethan Huffman, 33-yard run (Ethan Huffman converts 2-point try), 3:47 4Q (22-14 E)
|Yards (Pass-Rush)||320 (85-235)||238 (7-231)|
|Time of Possession||25:02||22:58|
|Penalties||6 for 64||5 for 25|
Passing — East: Austin Baughman 4-7 85 TD; Green: Ethan Huffman 1-3 7, Derek Salyers 0-2
Rushing — East: Leviticus Justice 17-140 TD, Landehn Pernell 16-58 TD, Austin Baughman 9-9, Brasen Barton 3-6; Green: Ethan Huffman 27-179 2TDs, Kaleb LaFollette 10-52
Receiving — East: Leviticus Justice 2-34 TD, Landehn Pernell 1-29, Matthew Flannery 1-22; Green: Nathaniel Brannigan 1-7
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved