PDT Sports Contributor
MINFORD, Ohio – When an offense is having trouble finishing off drives and putting points on the board, the game becomes reliant on whether or not the defense can protect its own territory from getting raided by the opposing team. Sometimes, the defense’s overall wherewithal can be used to jump start the offense as well.
The Minford Falcons defense faced that very test Friday night as a fumble and a bad snap on a punt attempt allowed the South Point Pointers to start two of their first five drives from inside the Falcons’ own territory.
However, the Minford defense withstood the test of their own resolve as a stingy pass rush and a never-quit attitude allowed the Falcons to stand the Pointers up on both of the aforementioned drives while not even allowing a first down in the process.
Minford’s defensive prowess resulted in the offense getting on track, as Matt Joyce’s 66-yard touchdown pass to Sean Gambill put a spark into the rest of the Falcons as Minford showed flashes of what it could do on both sides of the football in a 37-14 victory over South Point Friday evening.
From Brent Daniels’ perspective, the eighth-year head coach of the Falcons said that his entire team responded well to adversity, especially his defense, which held the Pointers to just 107 yards of total offense and five first downs over the entire contest.
“… We have some mistakes and turnovers, as well as some mental mistakes that we have to work on a little bit, but they’re all correctable, fixable things,” Daniels said.
“… On the first couple of series, our offense turned it over on fumbles and really could’ve put a couple more scores on the board, but that’s part of the game. Mistakes are going to happen; it’s how we react to them that counts and we did a good job bouncing back from those mistakes.”
Additionally, Minford’s defense allowed only 86 yards through the air, with 75 of them coming on a single completion from South Point quarterback Drew Adams to wideout Stephen Wagoner.
Take that single play out of the equation and the stats are even more unfathomable. The Pointers only gained 31 yards on 41 plays – an average of around three-quarters of a yard per play – on the evening.
“We talked to our defensive linemen before the game, and we knew that South Point was going to be able to make a lot of plays because of the style of offense that they run,” Daniels said. “We just told them to try to get into the quarterback’s face so that (Adams) would have a hard time throwing the ball down the middle, and for the most part, I think we did that.
“… Tyler Compton played a good game for us, and he could’ve had two or three interceptions, and Cain Madden caused a safety by tipping a ball up in the air. Other than having to deal with the short fields, the defense played pretty stout tonight.”
Before the Falcons and Pointers played on Friday night, Daniels hinted at the possibility of some twists in the playbook due to the overall abilities of senior quarterback Matt Joyce. Those twists were certainly evident in Friday’s contest as Minford lined up in a Pistol formation at times and let Joyce extend plays with his ability to get outside of the pocket.
The result? 163 yards passing and a touchdown apiece on the air and the ground for Joyce, whose abilities were clearly displayed on the 66-yard touchdown pass to Gambill and on a 24-yard touchdown run where the senior signal-caller sidestepped at least four South Point defenders on his way to putting Minford up by a 14-7 count with 3:45 remaining in the first half.
“We’re hoping that (Joyce’s) ability will continue to open our running game up like it did tonight,” Daniels said. “When we had to, we threw the ball a little bit and he completed two or three big pass attempts on third-downs.”
The Pointers, however, managed to take advantage of Minford’s mistakes as Mason White’s seven-yard touchdown run with 5:03 remaining before the halftime break and James Leonard’s five-yard plunge with just 41 seconds gone in the third quarter allowed South Point to close the gap to within a score.
However, the 21-14 mark was as close as South Point would get as Aron Alley’s six-yard dive put the Falcons up by two scores once again.
Minford’s defense then made a statement by getting heavy pressure on Adams as the Pointers tried to set up a screen pass, and after Adams’ pass attempt was batted right back to himself, Madden and the swarming Falcon defense gave Adams no choice but to accept his fate in the end zone as Minford took a 30-14 lead with 6:07 remaining in the third quarter off of the safety.
For the rest of the contest, Minford used its punishing ground game to eat up what was left of the clock and Zach Justice’ two-yard plunge into the end zone officially put the game on ice for the Falcons.
As for Week 2, Minford will play Columbus Grandview Heights, a team that the Falcons beat by a score of 34-0 last season.
Daniels, however, was quick to dispel any doubts that one might have about Grandview Heights, and said that the Bobcats return basically everybody from a team that went 4-6 last season but won three of its final five games in 2013. Grandview Heights beat Columbus Centennial by a 14-7 count Friday night to move to 1-0 on the young season.
“It’s going to be against another spread, no-huddle team, and (Jason Peters) has most of his athletes returning from last year,” Daniels said. “Like I told the kids, we’re going to have to pick it up a little bit more, but it’s the same type of offense that we’ve seen this week. We just need to work on our mistakes.”
In addition to the game itself, five former members of the Minford athletic program were honored before the game’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Those members include the following: Donald Bennett, Mike Borders, Diane Daniels, Heather Mason, and Kevin Flager.
Of the five, Borders, Mason, and Flager were All-SOC athletes in their heyday with Minford and each went to Division I schools (Eastern Kentucky football, Cincinnati basketball, and Ohio baseball, respectively). Bennett was a two-year letterman in basketball for the Falcons in 1946 and 1947 and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War while Daniels won over 70 percent of her games as a Minford softball coach and won 7 SOC Titles and 7 SOC Coach of the Year Awards. This includes the 1997 Minford Falcon softball state runner-up team, which stands as the Falcons’ most successful athletic team to this date.
Minford – TD, S. Gambill 66 yard pass from M. Joyce (M. Joyce kick); (1-66, 16)
Minford – TD, A. Alley 3 yard run (M. Joyce kick); (4-15, 1:46)
South Point – TD, M. White 7 yard run (G. Whitt kick); (4-80, 1:27)
Minford – TD, M. Joyce 24 yard run (M. Joyce kick); (3-66, 1:08)
South Point – TD, J. Leonard 5 run (G. Whitt kick); (2-17, :32)
Minford – TD, A. Alley 6 yard run (M. Joyce kick); (3-65, :54)
Minford – Safety, D. Adams sacked in end zone (6:07)
Minford – TD, Z. Justice 2 yard run (M. Joyce kick); (6-38; 2:06)
Rushing: South Point – J. Leonard 10-26, M. White 4-8, D. Adams 5-(-14); Minford – T. Hall 4-80, A. Alley 9-57, C. Gaines 4-40, D. Shepherd 7-35, Z. Justice 12-31, K. McQuate 1-7, K. Kennedy 2-3, T. Spradlin 1-(-2), E. Fitch 1-(-2), A. Daniels 1-(-2), E. Daniels 1-(-26).
Passing: South Point – D. Adams 7-25-0 86; Minford – M. Joyce 5-15-1 163.
Receiving: South Point – S. Wagoner 4-88; M. White 2-(-1), J. Leonard 1-(-1). Minford – S. Gambill 1-66, A. Alley 1-36, D. Shepherd 1-21, E. Fitch 1-20, T. Hall 1-15.
South Point 0-1; Minford 1-0