Circleville started off started off grinding out a few yards but turnovers and special teams woes gave Washington Court House the opportunities it needed to pick up a 48-14 win Friday night.
“We had some issues that held us back there,” Circleville coach Luke Katris said. “I don’t know if it is just a case of the yips here at the beginning of a couple games. There are a lot of young kids playing and trying to sort through some emotions on Friday night. I’m hoping we can sort through that and play better here coming out of the gate.”
The Tigers (0-2) picked up a couple of first downs on their opening possessions eating up a couple good chunks of the clock and, in between, held Washington Court House (2-0) on a short field and forced the Blue Lions into a field goal attempt that fell short.
WCH’s second possession was a nine-play drive, it’s longest of the night, that ended with Jameson McCane scoring from four yards out.
“We talked about focus and effort, playing fast and playing physical and, to be honest, we weren’t ready. We came in here and they were a little overconfident and it showed,” Blue Lions’ coach Chuck Williamson said. “They’re still 14, 15, 16 and 17-year-old kids. They think what they think.
“Once they settled down, I though the defense played really well. They were flying around being very physical and forced turnovers. It hurts they didn’t get their shutout, because they deserved it.”
The Blue Lions held Circleville to 15 yards of offense the rest of the first half.
A misplayed kickoff after the initial score gave the Blue Lions the ball back on a short field.
Circleville stopped that drive when Wyatt Thatcher recovered a fumble but WCH got the ball back two plays later after an interception — the first of five Circleville turnovers on the night.
That interception by Zack Koutz set up a four-play scoring drive that ended with Ethan Rogers-Wright finding Jerome Mack for a one-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead.
WCH’s Garritt Leasure recovered a fumble on Circleville’s next possession. That set up a seven-play drive, which covered 57 yards and ended with Rogers-Wright hitting McCane for a 25-yard score. McCane ran in the conversion for a 20-0 lead.
After forcing Circleville into a three-and-out, Rogers-Wright went back to the air.
He hit Mack for 16 yards, Calum Brown for 29 and bounced back from two incompletions to connect with McCane for a 15-yard touchdown. Grant Kuhlwein’s PAT kick made the score 27-0, which is where the score stood at halftime.
“We talked about making that big jump from week one to week two. Our quarterback played well tonight. He hit some wide-open guys,” Williamson said. “Our run game – I thought our offensive line really performed and I thought our defense played lights out. In our eyes it was a shutout.”
Rogers-Wright connected with Mack for a 61-yard TD and Eli Lynch on an 18-yard TD in the third quarter. Lynch’s score was set up after the defense recovered another Circleville fumble.
The final Blue Lions’ touchdown came after Brandon Cubbage recovered another Tiger fumble — Circleville lost four of its six fumbles in the game — and Trevin Downing scored from 12 yards out on the next play.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as they put together a nine-play drive that covered 70 yards. It was keyed by a 20-yard run from Lucky Donaldson and ended with Colin Michael scoring from a yard out with 4:08 left in the game. Scott Moats ran in the conversion to make the score 48-8.
Circleville then stopped WCH on downs with 1:01 left in the game.
Donaldson ran for 27 yards and Moats then ran for eight to cap the game’s scoring with 15 seconds left.
“That’s the one thing I love about my guys, we’re going to play a whole game and no matter what, we’re going to play hard,” Katris said.
Donaldson ended the night as Circleville’s leading rusher with 71 yards on 11 carries.
Ethan Rogers-Wright was the night’s top performer as the Blue Lions’ quarterback threw for 212 yards and four touchdowns as well as running for another 54.
Washington Court House ended the night with 404 yards of offense while Circleville had 164, all coming on the ground.
The Tigers will look to regroup before heading out to Westfall next week. The Mustangs (0-1) host Logan Elm (1-0) tonight in the Tackling Cancer game.
“It’s one of those fun games,” Katris said. “That’s a thing I love about coaching in Pickaway County, there’s a lot of fun in coaching the county games.
“The kids all know each other, there’s a closeness in the communities and you always get the good banter back and forth between the kids and the schools. It’s fun, it’s what football should be and that’s how communities should play it out.”
Washington Court House is on the road again next week with a trip to Frankfort to take on the Adena Warriors (2-0).
“We’ve got to focus and be ready to go,” Williamson said. “Adena’s a good football team and we better be ready to play because they’re going to be physical.”
Washington Court House 48, Circleville 14
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 F
Washington CH 6 21 21 0 48
Circleville 0 0 0 14 14
WCH — McCane 4 run (kick failed), 0:51.
WCH — Mack 8 pass from Rogers-Wright (pass failed), 9:41.
WCH — McCane 25 pass from Rogers-Wright (McCane run), 2:19.
WCH — McCane 15 pass from Rogers-Wright (Kuhlwein kick), 0:28.
WCH — Mack 61 pass from Rogers-Wright (Kuhlwein kick), 11:32.
WCH — Lynch 42 pass from Rogers-Wright (Kuhlwein kick), 9:30.
WCH — Downing 12 run (Kuhlwein kick), 3:05.
CV — Michael 1 run (Moats run), 4:08.
CV — Moats 8 run (pass failed), 0:15.
First downs 19 10
Rushing yards 29-188 44-164
Passing yards 216 0
Comp.-Att.-Int 14-28-0 0-3-1
Total yards 404 164
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 6-4
Penalties-Yards 7-55 4-30
Punts-Ave. 1-54 4-30
RUSHING – Washington Court House— Lynch 3-52, McCane 12-69, Rogers-Wright 6-54, Downing 6-26, Dallmayer 1-4, Haithcock 1-(-17). Circleville — Burton 5-7, Michael 8-19, Thatcher 8-39, Travis 6-(-14), Donaldson 11-71, Moats 6-42.
PASSING – Washington Court House — Rogers-Wright 11-24-0-212, Haithcock 3-4-0-4. Circleville — Donaldson 0-1-0-0, Travis 0-1-0-0, Thatcher 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING – Washington Court House — Lynch 4-63, Mack 3-81, McCane 3-39, Brown 1-29, Lemaster 2-(-2), Dallmayer 1-6.