picture from: Kim North
BARNESVILLE– When the playoffs roll around, no matter the sport, it’s all about survival and advancement. Barnesville did just that Friday night.
The No. 3 Shamrocks (12-0) led 13-0 after one quarter; trailed 14-13 at halftime and took a 19-17 advantage into the fourth quarter before seeing Columbus Academy’s 28-yard field goal attempt fly wide left with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left to hold.
“It’s all heart. That’s what this team is all about … heart and guts,” an excited Barnesville head coach Blake Allen said. “I told the kids that at some point we’re going to have to face difficulties. We hadn’t had to all season, but I was very pleased with the way they fought.”
With the hard-earned win, Barnesville sets up a rematch with No. 7 Wheelersburg next Friday at a site to be determined Sunday. Two places mentioned were Athens and Marietta for the semifinals of Region 15. The #7 Pirates (8-3) beat #15 Portsmouth 34-0 last night. They also ended Barnesville’s season last winter.
“It was 12 months in the making,” Allen said of the rematch. “We fought them for three quarters last year, but I didn’t think we were able to compete with them for four quarters. We are excited about the opportunity.”
Abe Ulrich gave the No. 6 Vikings (10-2) the final margin with a 40-yard field goal with just under a minute left in the third quarter. However, the visitors got the ball back just over eight minutes from time through Gav Davies-Reay’s pass on 37 minutes of his own.
On Columbus Academy’s first snap, running back Grayson Thomas carried it 57 yards to the Barnesville 17. Thomas gave the Vikings a first-and-goal at the 2, but backup quarterback Cole Spalding was tackled for a 2-yard loss by Marshall Mead.
After a Vikings timeout, linebacker Tyson Starr fired through a gap and picked off Thomas for another two down.
On the third goal of the 6, Spalding lost five more. Ulbrich’s shot was on the left as Shamrocks and their faithful celebrated.
“Marshall has a bike on him,” Starr said. “Once the big dog gets going, it’s hard to stop. That was a big play he made.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way we responded there at the end. We could have picked it up and let them score a touchdown, but these kids aren’t like that,” Allen emphasized. “They came up with some big plays on defense and made the field a lot longer.”
However, the home team still had to run three minutes off the clock before the job was done, but Columbus Academy only had one timeout remaining. Starr capped his outstanding night with four straight carries that forced the Vikings to use their final timeout.
The returning all-state senior ran the ball a career-high 35 times for 158 yards. His 1-yard TD run capped a 13-play-70-yard drive that chewed just over six minutes off the clock. Evan Lough’s PAT made it 7-0.
“I love my offensive line,” Starr emphasized. “I love them to death. When the going got tough, I told them this was our time. They took it well and got the job done.
After a Vikings three-and-out, Barnesville needed just two plays to make it 13-0. On first down, Duker Castello took right, pulled up and threw a strike to Camden Carpenter that resulted in a 40-yard catch and run. On the next play, Casey Carpenter found his cousin Cam on a left screen, which he weaved his way through traffic for a 20-yard score. However, the point was then blocked.
The Shamrocks fumbled on their first offensive possession of the second quarter and Lowe’s punt was downed at the Vikings’ 29.
Quarterback Jack Yeoman found linebacker Mikey Jauchius on the middle screen. The 200-pound tackle roared down the middle of the field before cutting to his left and mastering the far sideline for a 71-yard scoring play. Ulbrich’s layup cut the deficit to 13-7 with 10:30 left in the first half.
Columbus Academy’s Ryne Whitt recovered a Barnesville fumble at the Shamrocks’ 40 and the Vikings scored quickly to take their first lead. After a 5-yard penalty, Thomas picked up the 18 and then went wide right for the 27 and the touchdown. Ulbrich’s PAT put the visitors on top, 14-13, with 8:28 showing.
Lowe attempted a goal from 30 yards in the closing moments of the first half, but the shot was wide and just short.
Before the half ended, Yeoman received a brutal – but legal – tackle from Hines Ford, which resulted in him being helped off the field. He watched the second half from the sidelines on crutches. Spalding never attempted a pass after that.
“I thought we controlled the game for the most part in the first half,” Allen noted. “They (Columbus Academy) had two big plays. The screen pass where we missed some tackles and then they took advantage of our turnover. Other than that, I really thought we controlled the game.”
A bit of trickery gave Barnesville the lead back. After forcing Columbus Academy to punt on the opening possession of the second half, Starr lost a yard on first down, but the Vikings defense lost track of Luke Detling, who was lined up all alone along the Barnesville sideline. Carpenter took a quick and quick throw to Dettling at the 50, and he outran everyone to the end zone to complete a 63-yard punt. The two-point pass attempt failed, leaving the hosts on top 19-14.
Starr is just shy of 1,200 yards (1,197) and has scored 19 rushing touchdowns. Carpenter added two to his single-season touchdown pass record and now has 30.
“We try to keep it fresh throughout the year. He’s a special talent,” Allen said of Starr. “That’s what he wants. He wants the ball in these types of games. He wants to carry the load and he did tonight.
Dettling caught three passes for 90 yards. Camden Carpenter had 63 yards on three receptions.
Barnesville missed a penalty.
The Shamrocks finished with 317 yards of total offense while giving up 269.