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Ashland Times Gazette - Ashland turns back the clock in win over Lake

BY Chris Snow T-G Sports Writer

 

UNIONTOWN — Ashland High implemented a formula that has rarely been used by an Arrow football team since going to a spread offense — commit to the run and play suffocating defense. That concoction spelled doom for Uniontown Lake on Friday night, as AHS churned out 229 rushing yards and held the Blue Streaks to under 200 total yards of offense, leading to a 21-7 triumph at Alumni Field.

Lake (1-3) entered the game averaging 258.7 rushing yards per game, but Ashland’s defense swarmed the Blue Streak ball carries all night, limiting them to just 73 yards on 29 carries. Running back Cameron Martin was a point of concern for Ashland (3-1) entering the game, but he found little success on the ground and was held to just 55 yards. “Overall, we did really well (defensively),” said Ashland linebacker Jacob Robertson, who had a team-high eight tackles. “We read our keys, and we played really fast. The defensive line did a heck of a job. The linebackers and defensive backs were all at the spots we needed to be.”

If it wasn’t for an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Tye Hunt in the third quarter, Ashland would have pitched its first shutout since Week 9 of 2013. Lake got deep into Ashland territory twice in the fourth quarter, but each time the Arrows forced a turnover (a fumble and a Gavin Rohr interception). Mason Harpster was all over the field for Ashland, finishing with five tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss. Ross Garrison and Josh Bever each added seven tackles.

With Lake’s defense focusing on stopping Ashland’s aerial attack, the Arrows decided to go a different route, rushing 50 times for 229 yards. Behind an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage, quarterback Keagan Armitage carried the rock 32 times for 181 yards and three scores. He also completed 12-of-20 passes for 87 yards. Owen Reef added 47 yards on 14 carries. “We have to take what they give us,” Ashland head coach Scott Valentine said. “They had four guys in the box, and they had guys out covering our guys. We tell our guys every week it depends what they’re giving us. If it’s run, we’re going to take the run. If it’s pass, it’s pass. We just kept taking the run, and our guys up front did a great job.”

The most significant Arrow passing play of the game occurred late in the fourth quarter with Ashland leading 14-7. Lake sent a blitz up the middle, but Armitage stood tall in the pocket and hit a streaking Manny Langston down the seam for a 33-yard gain, setting up a first-and-goal. Three plays later, the senior QB found paydirt from 3 yards out, putting AHS up two possessions and all but sealing the win. “I saw they were playing man-to-man, so I was expecting my receiver to win one-on-one,” Armitage said. “That’s what we practice every day, and he (Langston) did it right there.” Bryke Williams led the Arrow receivers with six catches for 19 yards, while Reef snagged three passes for 18 yards, and Langston had a pair of grabs for 39 yards. Robert Harris and Noah Collins each had 14 tackles to lead the Blue Streak defense, and Hunt had four catches for a game-high 74 receiving yards.

DECIDING FACTOR: Ashland’s defense came out and set the tone from the beginning, yielding only 62 yards of total offense in the first half. The unit forced two turnovers and held Lake’s rushing attack in check all night. Running back Cameron Martin, who had 486 rushing yards and seven TDs in the three games prior to Friday, was limited to 55 yards on 15 carries.

THEY SAID IT: “The defense shut those guys (Lake) down. The running back (Cameron Martin) had a lot of yards in earlier games, and our guys did a great job of tackling and made some big plays on turnovers, too.” — Ashland head coach Scott Valentine

“With them (Ashland) being spread, we had a thought that they would run the ball at us a little bit more. ... Defensively, I thought we played solid. We gave up a couple big plays that we’d like to have back, but we have to score more points offensively to have a chance.” — Lake head coach Dan DeGeorge

“They couldn’t do anything (offensively). We stopped them with the run. We stopped them with the pass. They went to the Wildcat formation and stuff like that, and we just read it all over the place. We were all over them.” — Ashland linebacker Jacob Robertson

“With the defense they were playing, we expected me to run the ball a little bit more. ... They were only putting four in the box, so six against four, I think that’s a pretty good matchup for us. ... Our offensive tackles took it really to them. They kept pushing up to the linebackers and giving me holes and (Owen) Reef holes.” — Ashland quarterback Keagan Armitage

GAME BALLS: Ashland defense — Didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and held Lake to under 200 yards of total offense Ashland offensive line — Created running lanes all night for the ball carriers and owned the line of scrimmage Keagan Armitage, Ashland — Quarterback ran for 181 yards and three TDs

NEXT WEEK:  Ashland: at Mount Vernon / Lake: hosts Jackson



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