PIKETON — After two consecutive wins by seven points or less, Zane Trace had the pleasure of once again enjoying cruise control.
The Pioneers (8-0, 5-0 Scioto Valley Conference) traveled to Piketon on Friday night, and returned to Kinnikinnick with a 42-8 victory, taking one step closer towards a coveted gold ball and a return to the postseason.
“We just try to keep it simple,” Zane Trace coach Dwane Hall said. “We wanted to come down here and prove to Piketon and our guys who the best team in the league was and that’s what we’ve been going at all week long. These guys have played with a heavy heart all week. There’s been a lot of adversity. But I’m so proud of these kids. If I had to draw up a scenario about how our season should go, this would be exactly it.”
The adversity Hall eluded to hit senior Alex Wolff the hardest. Wolff lost his mother, earlier this week, after a lengthy illness.
However, after Friday’s performance from Wolff — one that included seven rushes for 56 yards, six tackles and two touchdowns — there’s no doubt he put a gigantic smile on mom’s face yet again.
“Normally I’m not in the backfield,” Wolff said. “But the line and receivers blocked really well tonight. That gave me a chance to actually get out there. That made it a whole lot easier. We just need to keep working hard and do everything that we’ve been doing. If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it.”
The Pioneers’ defense came into action allowing just 7.8 points per game. They were once again clicking on all cylinders as the stingy unit gave up just 210 total yards, limited Piketon to 102 yards rushing and forced four turnovers.
“The beat goes on,” Hall said. “What can you say about that group? They keep going out there, doing their jobs and have really played well all year long.”
After Piketon (4-4, 3-2 SVC) turned the ball over on downs — a common theme on the night as neither team punted — Zane Trace struck first as Wolff found the end zone on an option play from 15 yards out with 7:09 left in the first quarter, capping off a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
Junior quarterback Austin Harris then made it 14-0 with an 86-yard run down the Pioneers’ sideline at the 11:45 mark in the second quarter. Less than six minutes later, with 6:39 left in the half, running back Truman Love plowed across the goal line from eight yards out, making it 21-0 and officially putting the Redstreaks on blowout alert.
Harris connected with wide receiver Pierce Mowery for a 13-yard touchdown toss with 5:09 left before the break and Love scored again, from a yard out, right before halftime to give the Pioneers a 35-0 edge heading to the locker rooms.
“A lot of the things we do is based on what the defense gives us,” Hall said. “We used the option tonight some and we’re not going to line up and run that if we don’t think we can be successful doing it. We watched Piketon on tape all week and felt like we could use that to our advantage.”
In the second half, a running clock was in effect for most of the next 24 minutes.
Piketon finally got on the board with 3:58 left in the third, thanks to a two yard touchdown plunge from quarterback Gabe Birkhimer to make it 35-8. But Zane Trace quickly answered with 0:48 left before the start of the fourth as Wolff weaved his way into the end zone from nine yards out, rounding out the scoring.
After Wolff, Harris finished 11-of-13 passing for 137 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 94 yards on 10 carries and a score. Love had 76 yards on the ground and two scores while also recording 10 tackles and an interception on defense. Mowery finished with 99 yards receiving on seven catches and a touchdown.
For Piketon, quarterback Devon Brewster went 5-of-17 passing for 68 yards and two interceptions. Birkhimer was 4-of-6 for 40 yards and an interception while also rushing for 57 yards on nine carries and a score. Wide receiver Gage Williams hauled five balls for 67 yards.
Piketon will travel to Unioto in Week 9 while Zane Trace makes a trip to Huntington before hosting Westfall.
“We’re going to look at what we can work on and what we can strengthen,” Wolff said. “We can’t look past either of those teams if we want to accomplish our goals.”