MINFORD — As it turned out, the visiting Washington Court House Blue Lions were simply too tall, too talented, and perhaps most importantly, too fast for the Minford Falcons on Friday night.
Washington Court House had too much speed and athleticism for the Falcons to account for, pressured the Minford fronts all night long, and took advantage of secondary mismatches — all en route to rolling and blanking Minford 42-0 in a non-league football game inside the Falcons’ Nest.
Both teams are now 3-1, as the young Falcons — admittedly —played by far their biggest and best opponent of their schedule to date.
Washington Court House has a much larger roster and is two divisions larger at Division III, but the Blue Lions’ spread-the-field and pass-oriented attack presented fits for the Falcons, especially in the secondary, all evening.
On the flip side, Minford freshman quarterback Peyton Caudill found Blue Lions in his face — and unfortunately breathing down his neck —as he was under pressure for the majority of the game.
In fact, he was sacked early and often —and was smothered for minus-29 yards rushing on 11 official attempts.
The Blue Lions also intercepted Caudill three times — as he completed only two of his 13 pass attempts for a dozen yards, both to Bennett Kayser.
“Their quickness and athleticism was a concern coming in for us. Their defensive front was very physical and quick to get on us and they put pressure on Peyton all night. Then they did a nice job of covering our receivers downfield,” said Minford coach Jesse Ruby. “There were times we ran the ball effectively, but to sustain drives became an issue.”
They weren’t with Washington.
Caudill’s counterpart, six-foot and three-inch and 180-pound senior slinger Troy Thompson, threw only three incompletions on 19 attempts —and had a hat trick of first-half touchdown tosses while racking up 254 yards.
Tanner Lemaster, the highly-touted 6-6 and 235-pound tight end who has committed to the University of Kentucky —presented the Falcons for a matchup nightmare.
He made two touchdown receptions as part of his game-highs six catches and 70 yards, as the Blue Lions landed all the points they needed for the win on their opening possession —a 10-play, 65-yard march that spanned only two-and-a-half minutes to result in points.
Lemaster made a 6-yard TD grab on a slant route, and it was just the start of a 26-first down and one punt for 40-yard night for the Blue Lions —which also saw R.J. Foose successfully make all six of his extra-point attempts.
Minford, meanwhile, had a chance on its opening possession — as junior Jeffrey Pica, one of only two Falcons which played any significant snaps in the Falcons’ 26-25 triumph over the visiting Blue Lions two years ago, gained 24 and 18 yards on respective rushes.
That second pickup put the Falcons in business at the red zone doorstep, but a loss of three yards plus two pass incompletions forced a field-goal attempt from the Blue Lions’ 24-yard-line.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Minford’s Myles Montgomery never got the opportunity to kick the ball — because a bad snap resulted in a fumble and a team loss of 11 yards.
Five plays later, Minford did recover a Blue Lion fumble at its own 36, but the Falcons went three-and-out and punted — prior to possessions of a pair of interceptions — and a five-play and punt series.
Minford trailed 28-0 with three-and-a-half minutes remaining before half, and did drive 10 plays from its own 15 to the Blue Lion 23 —as Pica picked up nine yards apiece on two carries, while Tysen Kingery blasted up the middle for a 31-yard gain to the Washington 41.
But Caudill, on 2nd-and-10 from the 23, was intercepted by Michael Bearden in the end zone on the Falcons’ final play of the half —as his lob for Kayser fell short.
“At times, we did things that only hurt ourselves,” said Ruby. “Three turnovers in the first half, a bad snap on the field goal try, certain penalties. Those things all add up. The little things like that are what really affects you against teams that good. Against teams not as talented, you can get away with some mistakes. But against a very good football team, which we knew coming in they were, they will take advantage. Hats off to them, they came ready to play and took control of the game early.”
And, maintained control late to preserve the shutout.
After a scoreless third period, in which the Falcons did drive 11 plays before punting again, three 15-yard pickups —one on a Pica run plus a pair of Washington unsportsman-like conduct penalties —put Minford as deep as the 6-yard-line.
But Pica was tackled for a four-yard loss, Caudill was sacked for a nine-yard setback, Caudill threw another incompletion, and finally Rocky Jones intercepted Caudill on the second snap of the fourth quarter.
In that fourth frame, and sandwiched around a Minford three-and-out and punt, the Blue Lions made it 42-0 —on a nine-yard run by Bearden and a 3-yard run by backup quarterback Gavin Coffman.
Washington’s speed simply bothered the Falcons, as it outgained Minford 392-156 —as Thompson completed at least two passes apiece to five separate Blue Lion receivers.
Trevaughn Jackson, whose 11-yard run with Foose’s fourth extra point made it 28-0 with three-and-a-half minutes left before halftime, paced the Washington rushers with 71 yards on only seven attempts.
For the Falcons, Pica amassed 134 yards on 20 totes, while Kingery collected 50 yards on 11 tries.
Ruby did discuss the positives from Friday night from his Falcons —along with the negatives.
“I thought we came out at the start of the game and the third quarter and at least sustained drives, broke some good runs off. But we’ve got to be able to not beat ourselves when the opportunity arises to put the ball in the end zone. We were in scoring position a few times, but we didn’t finish anything off,” said the coach. “We’re young and that’s not an excuse, but we have to be able to finish drives when we need to.”
With Friday night’s loss, the Falcons face true adversity for the first time this season —as they must come together and regroup against East Clinton.
Montgomery made a last-second Falcon field goal last season, as Minford prevailed 16-14 in Clinton County.
Now, the Astros invade the Falcons’ Nest —prior to Minford’s opening of Southern Ohio Conference Division II play.
“A lot of our guys played last season, and when we had losses, we bounced back. Right now, we have to learn from our mistakes, put this game behind us, and prepare for next week,” said Ruby. “You can’t dwell on a loss, you have to look forward to what’s coming next.”
* * *
Washington CH 14 14 0 14—42
Minford 0 0 0 0 —0
WCH — Tanner Lemaster, 6-yard pass from Troy Thompson (R.J. Foose kick), 9:29, 1st (7-0 WCH)
WCH — Isaiah Haithcock, 10-yard pass from Troy Thompson (R.J. Foose kick), :01, 1st (14-0 WCH)
WCH — Tanner Lemaster, 27-yard pass from Troy Thompson (R.J. Foose kick), 9:42, 2nd (21-0 WCH)
WCH — Trevaughn Jackson, 11-yard run (R.J. Foose kick), 3:33, 2nd (28-0 WCH)
WCH — Michael Bearden, 10-yard run (R.J. Foose kick), 10:36, 4th (35-0 WCH)
WCH — Gavin Coffman, 3-yard run (R.J. Foose kick), 1:38, 4th (42-0 WCH)
First downs 26 14
Scrimmage plays 47 56
Rushes-yards 24-138 43-144
Passing yards 254 12
Total yards 392 156
Cmp-Att-Int. 19-23-0 2-13-3
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-80 7-80
Punts-Ave. 1-40 4-37.25
RUSHING — Washington Court House: Trevaughn Jackson 7-71 TD, Rocky Jones 5-7, Michael Bearden 4-19 TD, Gavin Coffman 4-15 TD, Troy Thompson 2-5, Jakob Hoosier 1-14, Andrew Young 1-7; Minford: Jeffrey Pica 20-134, Tysen Kingery 11-50, Peyton Caudill 11-(-29), Team 1-(-11)
PASSING — Washington Court House: Troy Thompson 19-23-0-254 3TD; Minford: Peyton Caudill 2-13-3-12
RECEIVING —Washington Court House: Tanner Lemaster 6-70 2TD, A.J. Dallmayer 5-55, Isaiah Haithcock 4-37 TD, Calum Brown 2-47, Rocky Jones 2-45; Minford: Bennett Kayser 2-12