CADIZ - It was a case of good news, bad news here Friday night for Harrison Central.
First, the good news: the Huskies evened their record at 2-2 with a convincing, 27-7, victory over previously unbeaten Union Local on the Wagner Field grass. The triumph also allowed the hosts to begin Buckeye 8 play at 1-0.
Now, the bad news: starting linebacker Casey Runevitch and tailback Travis Stenson spent the majority of the game on crutches after sustaining lower body injuries in the first half.
HARRISON?CENTRAL’S Nate Maykowski tries to slip out of a tackle by Union Local’s Spencer Ware during Friday’s game in Cadiz. The Huskies posted a 27-7 victory.
"Those injuries make this win bittersweet," Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka explained. "We're progressing so far as a team. We've taken a step every week, and to lose a kid like Casey who has given this program everything he has for three years is huge.
"He is one of the reasons why we have played so well early," Kropka added. "Travis, losing him kind of takes away our home-run hitter there, but what are you going to do?"
Stenson got the scoring started on Harrison Central's opening drive of the game. He capped a 6-play, 62-yard march with a 38-yard jaunt around left end. He took the handoff up the middle, but found no room and bounced it outside where it was clear sailing. Geoff Pecar's PAT made it 7-0 with 9:09 on the clock.
Union Local's Eric Dunfee recovered a Huskies' fumble at the Jets' 41. He then capped an 11-play, 58-yard drive with a 11-yard burst up the middle. His PAT deadlocked the game with 2:33 on the first-quarter clock.
However, that would be the extent of the Jets' offense as they could only muster 147 total yards.
"We had a freshman quarterback in there and I thought he played fairly well for a freshman," first-year Union Local head coach Bruce Stiles said of Shane Smolenak. "We found out Monday that (starting quarterback) Travis (James) suffered a concussion last week. I thought Shane battled.
"They (Harrison) brought a lot of pressure, especially from the outside," Stiles admitted. "I thought we did a good job of running the ball inside, but we had a hard time getting anything on the outside."
Harrison Central took the lead for good when Nate Maykowski, who stepped in for Stenson in the backfield, sprinted around his left end from 21 yards out. Pecar's extra-point made it 14-7 with 6:09 left in the first half.
Keying the 4-play, 56-yard march were a 24-yard hookup between quarterback David Miser and wideout Nate Olmstead and a 19-yard carry by Nico Williams.
Miser, who went 11-for-20 for 192 yards and two touchdowns, completed the scoring with a 15-yard TD strike to Olmstead late in the third quarter and a 22-yard scoring toss to Dalton Rutter in the fourth quarter. Rutter made a nice adjustment to the ball just inside the front right corner of the end zone.
Olmstead's grab was set up by a 49-yard connection from Miser to Rutter down the near sidelines.
"He can throw it, but the red zone mistakes are killing us," Kropka said of an ill-fated pass that was picked off by Union Local's Jake Leishman at the Jets' 4. "Other than that one pick, he played a really good game."
Stiles suffered his first head coaching loss after three straight wins to start his career.
"I would have liked the fairy tale to continue, but we've been talking about hard work to our kids all year, so we'll see how we bounce back. How can we handle adversity? This will let us see what kind of team we are," Stiles said.
Dunfee, who had 12 carries for 76 yards and the aforementioned touchdown, finished with 88 stripes on 21 totes. Smolenak was just 3-for-12 for 31 yards as he was harassed for most of the second half.
Rutter landed three passes for 84 yards.
Union Local remains on the road next Friday in a Buckeye 8 matchup in Richmond against Edison. Harrison Central travels to Martins Ferry.
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