Chillicothe Charges Through Miami Trace

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The first play that Miami Trace ran resulted in a touchdown.

But it was a touchdown for Chillicothe Cavaliers.

The Panthers fumbled into their own end zone and the ball was recovered by the Cavs just seconds into Friday’s 49-14 Chillicothe victory over the Panthers at Hernstein Field. The win moved Chillicothe to (7-1), and came on the backs of surgical performances from the Cavalier backfield and their staunch defense

Chillicothe leaned on the same players that they have all year, and they came through once again. Quarterback Adrian Beverly and tailback J.J. Harris were both incredibly efficient in the winning effort. Harris racked up nearly 200 yards from scrimmage on only nine touches (seven carries, two receptions) and tallied three total touchdowns. Beverly finished with two touchdown tosses and 99 yards passing on just eight attempts. He also added 24 yards on the ground.

Chillicothe’s known quantities kept Cavalier drives alive all night, and turned plays that should’ve been small gains into scores. On two separate occasions J.J. Harris took a short swing pass from Bradley to the house, showing off his unmatched ability to change speed and direction in a split second by zig-zagging around Panthers defenders.

The Cavaliers also received scoring help from receiver Joel Barnes, who fired off a 79-yard jet sweep touchdown run halfway through the second quarter to make the score 35-0. The scintillating run was Barnes’ first touchdown on the season.

Even in defeat, Miami Trace (2-6) had their share of gaudy stat lines as well. The Panthers used both Tyler Taylor and Dalton Mayer as quarterbacks, and often lined up whoever was not under center as a wide-out. Both men threw one touchdown each, and threw them to each other, leading to a very rare instance of multiple players having both a receiving and throwing touchdown. Meyer also finished with 74 yards rushing, often deployed in Miami Trace’s option offense and for keeper plays.

Those keeper plays produced positive signs for the Panthers, as Miami Trace found their most encouraging drives through a heavy dose of options and designed quarterback runs.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, encouraging drives were too few and far between to keep up Friday, and even if Miami Trace pulled out a few chunk plays, Chillicothe’s defense would not break. The Cavaliers forced two fumbles (one recovered) while both Joey Wright and Cameron Cook pulled in interceptions; turnovers kept the Panthers from sustaining any sort of momentum they would build.

Chillicothe played zero deep for much of the game, trusting their corners while loading up the box and restricting how successful the Panthers running game could be.

While the Cavs executed their game plan deftly on the field, at least one big play seemed to be the result of good fortune. J.J. Harris had ripped off a long run but was stripped of the ball while trying to evade a tackler. Miraculously, the ball bounced straight off the turf and right back into Harris’ hands, and he would actually gain more yards before being taken down in a drive that resulted in a touchdown for Chillicothe.

Looking forward for both teams, Chillicothe will play Washington Courthouse in the Cavaliers’ second game of a three game homestand, while Miami Trace will return to their home field to play McClain.