RICHMOND - Edison's football team is in the midst of a turnaround season and Buckeye Local's squad has just been looking for the season to turn itself around. Both stayed on the same track on Friday.
Buckeye Local came after Edison with its best performance of the season, but a late punt return by Carter Andreozzi and a pass interception by Devan Tennant with less than five minutes remaining gave the Wildcats the late opportunities on their way to an exciting 26-22 win over the Panthers at Cartwright Memorial Field Friday night.
Edison, coming off a 20-9 Homecoming win over Union Local a week earlier, pushed its record to 4-2 on the season. First-year coach Derrick Stickles will take his Wildcats to Harrison Central on Friday.
Coach Phil Pest's Panthers got very close to their first win of the season, but fell to 0-6. They are on the road as well next Friday heading to Martins Ferry to battle the Purple Riders.
"First of all, I have to give Buckeye Local a lot of credit," Stickles said. "They came here ready to play football and they played hard the entire game. They controlled things in the first half, but, at halftime, we challenged our kids to come out and play Wildcat football and they did."
"I think it was a great effort on their part on every play," the Wildcat coach added. "They can't go out there and play unsure of themselves."
"We've got a lot of good athletes in every position," he added. "My coaches do a great job of looking over things and figuring out where to put the kids in the best position to help this team. It was a great effort and they did the things that they were supposed to do."
Edison got a great effort from its kids down the stretch with some key plays late in the final quarter.
Down 22-14, the Wildcats got their first big break on an exciting 37-yard punt return by Andreozzi with 6:26 on the clock. Andreozzi took the boot at the Panther 40, broke to the right side and added 37 yards before being caught at the three. On the first play, after the return, Ethan Shannon went off right tackle to score with 6:11 remaining. Nolan Marcus' pass for the two-pointer was batted away by Buckeye's Logan Dehnart.
Still down by two, Edison got its second big break of the game as Devan Tennant stepped in from of a Chase Hopkins pass in the hosts' territory. Marcus took charge from there, running twice for 12 yards and throwing to Andreozzi for five more to the eight. Marcus went through the middle for six to the two and a Buckeye penalty inched it to the one. Shannon bolted over from there with 2:28 on the clock for a 26-22 lead.
Buckeye's last ditch effort was thwarted by a fumble after a reception near midfield that was covered by the hosts.
Buckeye opened the scoring in the first quarter as Hopkins capped off an 89-yard drive with a 50-yard scoring bomb to Brandon Panepucci. The drive was also fueled by an 18-yard Hopkins to Tyler Miller toss. Hopkins threw to Damion Beall for the two-pointer with 5:44 on the clock.
In the second quarter, the Wildcats turned a pass interception by Shannon into an 80-yard drive. A 48-yard by Marcus sparked the drive that was capped off by a Shannon score from five yards out with 10:40 on the clock. Marcus ran in for the bonus points.
Later in the second, Edison took the lead at 14-8 as a Marcus to Andreozzi 17-yard pass set up a 32-yarder from Marcus to Hunter Sweat. With 6:24 on the board. The PAT kick was short.
Buckeye put together another scoring drive before the half, covering 64 yards on 12 plays. The Panthers stayed primarily on the ground during the drive, but Hopkins threw for 14 yards top Eric Banal and then 3 yards to Beall for the score with 21 seconds left in the half.
Buckeye opened the second half by holding the ball for nearly nine minutes with an 18-play drive the featured two fourth-down conversions and two third down conversions. A 23 and 10-yard run by Hopkins sparked the drive the culminated with a five-yard scoring run by Beall with 3:18 on the clock. Hopkins ran off tackle for the two-pointer and a 22-14 lead,
"I thought we outplayed them, the whole game," a dejected coach Pest said after the loss. "A tipped ball that was intercepted and a couple late penalties hurt us, but I'm very proud of our kids' effort tonight."
"We just have to do enough things perfect in order to win. We just aren't going to get any breaks," Pest added. "We played well defensively. We were able to hold them for a big part of the game."
"They have a very good quarterback and he took charge and played hard in the end and that was the difference for them," the Buckeye coach said. "I wanted our kids to win bad, but we'll just have to keep plugging away."