FALLS TOWNSHIP — Few area players get as much out of their physical ability than Crooksville’s Daulton Finck.
The 5-foot-7, 145-pounder is usually the smallest guy on the field, but he gives the Ceramics a little bit of everything with his never-say-die disposition on the field.
He gave them a whole bunch on Friday night.
Finck, a halfback, ran 24 times for 282 yards and four touchdowns — including a dazzling 60-yarder before halftime — and Crooksville piled up more than 500 yards of total offense in a 56-34 win against West Muskingum in a Muskingum Valley League game at Whirlwind Stadium.
Crooksville (2-3, 1-3 MVL), which ran 55 times for 490 yards, outscored the Tornadoes 21-0 in the third quarter to open up a 42-21 lead.
The win snapped a string of two losses that dropped the Ceramics to 2-3 overall. If the team is to challenge for the postseason, every game the rest of the way becomes critical.
“We’re definitely happy to bounce back. A win I’ll take, no doubt about it,” Crooksville coach Chad Mickey said. “We have some things we have to fix, but I’ll never complain about a win.”
Getting the run established early was part of the game plan, but getting it to Finck, who had four runs of 20 or more yards, wasn’t necessarily the priority.
“I knew someone would probably get off, and he had the hot hand, so we were just going to keep feeding him,” Mickey said. “He’s a spark plug. He plays hard, doesn’t take plays off. You get guys like that who give it their all, all of the time, and you’ve got to love that.”
The game featured enough offensive fireworks to light up the sky on the Fourth of July, and it was never more prevalent than a second quarter that saw the teams score 29 points in the final 6:59.
It left the teams deadlocked at 21 at halftime, but the Ceramics took their opening drive of the second half 65 yards in 10 plays and took a 28-21 lead when Finck scored from the 1. Dalton Banik caught two passes for 31 yards on the drive, including a 22-yarder.
Continuing the trend from the first half, a big kick return from Jaden Gianettino and his 10-yard counter play on third-and-goal from the 14 gave the Tornadoes a fourth-and-goal from the 4. The Tornadoes elected for a field goal attempt, but the kick was wide left and Crooksville took over at its own 20.
Five plays later, Chaz Love took a handoff 59 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-21 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
Facing a fourth-and-4 from their own 34 on their next possession, the Tornadoes went for it and were stopped a yard short of the first down. Finck took the next play 37 yards for a score to make it 42-21 as time expired in the third quarter.
West (1-4, 1-4), which produced its best offensive showing of the season with 335 total yards, never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Gunner Hazen had a big first half through the air, hitting Cameron Strauss for 46 yards to set up a touchdown, and he also found Strauss on a well-thrown deep ball for an 84-yard touchdown.
That gave the Tornadoes a 14-13 lead with 3:46 left before halftime, and after Crooksville took a 21-14 lead after Finck’s long run, Gianettino had a 40-yard run to set up the tying score just before halftime.
Gianettino finished with 131 yards on 23 carries while Hazen was 7-of-14 passing for 172 yards. Strauss had 5 catches for 154 yards.