HANOVER — It’s not cold enough to snow in October, but Granville must have felt like it got buried by an avalanche at Licking Valley’s homecoming.
Fifty seconds into the game, the Panthers scored and never let up in a stunning 45-0 Licking County League Buckeye Division win against the Blue Aces Friday at Randy Baughman Stadium.
“We lost last year on homecoming, and all week long we stressed about not being distracted,” said senior guard Noah Ourant, whose return to the offensive line from injury has helped fuel a resurgence in the run game for Valley (5-2, 2-0). “We had a really good week of practice and talked about making a statement, showing what we can be.”
No one expected the margin of victory.
“It just happened,” said senior tailback/linebacker Ethan Fout, who went over 100 yards for the second consecutive game with 105 yards on just nine carries with three touchdowns. “We thought it would be a tough game, and we just put it on them, got the momentum early.”
Linebacker Garrett Robinson picked off Kyle Zies on the second play of the game, returning it 19 yards to the Granville 6 from where quarterback Jake Lewis scored with 11:10 still on the first-quarter clock. Elijah Brechbill, who went 6-of-6 on PAT kicks, added the point and it was 7-0 before the fans had barely settled into their seats.
“We came out and made a play, it created a lot of energy and we were able to ride that for a while,” Valley coach Randy Baughman said.
Brechbill later boomed a 46-yard field goal, and Fout got his big night off and running with a 9-yard TD run with 2:01 still to go in the first. It was already 17-0.
On his next two touchdown runs, Fout broke tackles, followed his blocks and got to the outside on determined 19 and 30-yard scoring bursts. It was 31-0 at halftime and the second half was played with a running clock.
“I’ve put it on myself to shoulder some of the workload, but all of our backs are good,” Fout said. “Our offensive line is blocking great and I was just looking out in front of me and seeing the holes.”
With Granville freshman Camden Crouch at quarterback, Valley sophomore Gunnar Carpenter picked off a pass and sped 23 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, and Robinson capped a nine-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Granville’s only threat came late in the first half when it partially blocked a punt, only to be stopped on downs at the Panthers’ 15.
The Blue Aces were limited to five first downs and 100 total yards. Freshman Brandon Haley had 14 carries for 76 yards.
“They’re a good football team. They’re scary,” Baughman said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could shut them out. We flew around a little better tonight and got to the ball.”
Ourant said Valley has been able to develop some defensive depth. “We’re rotating in seven or eight on the defensive line, and we’re able to keep fresh bodies out there,” he said.
Granville coach J.R. Wait said his team got hit in the mouth early, and never recovered. The Blue Aces (4-3, 0-1) must re-group quickly, with Watkins Memorial and Licking Heights looming the next two weeks.
“Hats off to them for playing that well,” he said of Valley. “Our players and coaches have to learn from it, and put it behind us in a hurry.”
For more photos by Jamie Potts and a video from Dave Weidig, go to NewarkAdvocate.com.