WU stays unbeaten with 54-7 win over North Adams –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Since both programs have fielded teams at the varsity level, an annual football event at West Union’s Freedom Field has been the “Battle For The Victory Bell”, with North Adams and West Union facing off with the prized “Victory Bell” awaiting the winner. In three years of play, the only name painted on the bell as the victors has been West Union and that did not change last Friday night as the annual tussle between the two county rivals took place and the Dragons rang the bell for the fourth consecutive year, rolling to a 54-7 win over the Green Devils.
The Battle for the Victory Bell is a great tradition and our players were highly motivated to win that trophy for another year,” said West Union head coach Scott McFarland. “Both teams played really hard and we knew we needed to take control of the line of scrimmage early knowing that North Adams has some size on their line.”
“Our offensive and defensive lines both played great tonight and we were able to get a lot of players on the field throughout the game to gain experience. As a coach, it’s exciting to see young players making plays that maybe they wouldn’t have been able to make in week one, that’s progress.”
The outcome of last Friday night’s contest was decided early as the Dragons scored on all six of their first half possessions to build up an insurmountable 41-0 halftime advantage. The scoring parade began with a three-yard touchdown run by Clayton Madden and Mizael Gapi conversion run that made it 8-0 less than two minutes into the game. After a quarterback sack by West Union’s Tyler Egnor forced a North Adams punt, the connection of quarterback Ryan Rothwell and receiver Brandan Cornell struck for the first time, connecting on a 46-yard touchdown pass that combined with the Jordan Hendricks conversion run, bumped the lead to 16-0.
The stellar West Union defense forced a turnover on downs on the next Green Devils’ possession and three plays later, it was Rothwell to Cornell again, this time from 42 yards out for the score. The extra point kick was no good, but the Dragons led 22-0 after the first quarter of action.
The Devils did pick up a first down on their next possession on a Dustin Dotson run up but the drive fizzled and another punt resulted in another Rothwell to Cornell TD pass from 36 yards away that made it 28-0 early in the second period.
“Our veterans, Ryan Rothwell and Brandan Cornell, were a special connection all night for us,” said Coach McFarland. “Those two have great chemistry after playing together the last few seasons.”
Some tough running by R.D. Ruggles kept the Devils alive on their next drive but that one also eventually ended in a punt, which Cornell returned all the way to the North Adams 20. On the first snap after the return, West Union’s Dallas Waldron took a handoff and raced 20 yards around the right end, just sneaking inside the right pylon for the score. The extra point was wide and the Dragons were on top 34-0.
A nice run by Montgomery Myers took North Adams into Dragon territory but a fumbled snap was covered by Rothwell, giving the home team another chance to score before the half. On a first and 25 play, Rothwell rolled left to pass, found no on open, and took off, racing 64 yards before being drug down at the North Adams one. Hendricks took it in from there and an extra point kick by Jacob Fox sent the two sides to the intermission with West Union comfortable in front 41-0.
The big margin meant a running clock which made the second half go by much more rapidly, and the Dragons got on the board early when, for the second consecutive week, Waldron intercepted a pass and took it all the way to the house for the pick six. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 47-0.
Credit North Adams for resilience as they took their first second half possession and marched 45 yards in nine plays, all on the ground, getting a four-yard touchdown run from Dotson with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Jake Kendall booted the extra point and the Green Devils had put their first seven on the scoreboard.
The final points of the night were memorable for one West Union back as Jimmy Wallingford carried the ball all four plays on a 40-yard drive, getting into the end zone from two yards out for his first varsity touchdown and with the Fox extra point, the final points in a 54-7 Dragons’ victory.
The win kept the Dragons unbeaten on the season at 4-0 and they will put that perfect mark on the line on Friday night when they are on the road to face the Southern Buckeye Warriors in Southern Ohio Independent League play. West Union won an earlier meeting between the two teams, 40-14.
North Adams fell to 1-4 on the year with the loss and they will be back at Freedom Field on Saturday as the guests of the Peebles Indians.
“I am very pleased with the development of our team which we will certainly need down the stretch,” added Coach McFarland. “We are looking forward to our rematch with Southern Buckeye on Friday and expect another competitive game.”