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Big plays lift Barnesville by Zeps

SARAHSVILLE — Big plays were abundant in Friday’s clash between Barnesville and Shenandoah, but the Shamrocks had more in their arsenal and the result was a 46-20 victory to spoil Senior Night for the Zeps.

Coach Blake Allen’s ‘Rocks had scoring plays of 33, 56, 31, 80 and 72 yards and a sixth score was set up by a 70-yard gainer, with Shenandoah tallying from 67 and 36 yards out while a 60-yard play led to a third TD.

In the end, it was Barnesville reeling off its fifth straight victory to improve to 7-1 and all but clinch a first-round playoff berth in Division VI, Region 23.

“We weren’t driving the ball great tonight like we’ve been doing all year,” stated Coach Allen, “but it was sloppy out there, so credit our kids for making some big plays when we needed them. This was good for us to get this road win because we’ve had some trouble here in the past.”

Barnesville took control with two scores in the opening quarter, the first on QB sneak by junior C.J. Hannahs that turned into a 33-yard sprint to the end zone at the 7:47 mark, and then on the next possession when senior back Owyn Wise sprinted 55 yards to paydirt with 4:00 left in the period.

Senior Gavin Carpenter hit the first point-after kick, but the second was blocked.

The Zeps (2-7) got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter thanks to a 67-yard pass connection from junior QB Nathan Van Fleet to sophomore wideout Hunter Yates. The same combination teamed up for the two-point conversion, pulling Shenandoah within 13-8 with 10:23 remaining in the first half.

The ‘Rocks extended the lead to 19-8 less than three minutes later when Hannahs raced 31 yards for “six”, with the two-point conversion pass unsuccessful.

Shenandoah used a 60-yard Van Fleet to junior tight end Joel Rataiczak aerial to get within striking range, with Van Fleet eventually getting the payoff on a two-yard push into the end zone.

A fumble negated the try for two, but the Zeps had some momentum and trailed by just five, 19-14, with 1:20 remaining in the first half.

The momentum quickly went back to the ‘Rocks, however, when senior Spencer Bliss returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a TD and then, after Barnesville forced a three-and-out by the Shenandoah offense, another quick-strike play followed when Hannahs hit senior Chase Conner for a 72-yard touchdown with eight seconds left in the second period.

Carpenter hit the PAT after the last score, pushing the Shamrocks’ lead to 32-14 at the intermission.

“Scoring twice before the half was huge,” related Allen. “They scored to make it 19-14 and the momentum was starting to shift, but Spencer did what he’s been doing all year for us with that big kickoff return and then we hit the long pass play to Chase to go into halftime in control.”

The ‘Rocks opened the second half with another explosive play – a 70-yard run by Wise – and Bliss scored from 10 yards out on the next snap to extend the lead to 39-14 at the 11:33 mark of the third.

Shenandoah cut the lead to 39-20 with 2:22 remaining in the third round on a 36-yard TD pass from Van Fleet to junior back Tyce DeVolld, but Barnesville sealed the deal with a 14-yard TD pass from Hannahs to a wide-open Bliss with 6:16 left in the game, and Carpenter’s fourth extra-point kick closed the scoring.

For Shenandoah coach Johnny Jones, it was déjà vu with the defense allowing the big strikes and missing tackles.

“That’s been our nemesis all year,” said the Zeps’ boss. “When they make a big play, it’s very deflating to our defense. We’ve just got to teach them to tackle better. We’re not staying low and we’ve got to stop leaving our feet.

“Hats off to Barnesville, though,” he continued. “That’s a pretty good ball team and they’ve got several good backs. They knew we wanted to run the ball and their defense did a nice job bottling us up.”

Barnesville finished with 294 yards rushing and 158 passing, with Wise carrying 11 times for 160 yards while Hannahs completed 8-of-14 passes including four for 57 yards to Bliss.

Shenandoah closed with 211 yards through the air, but just 54 net yards on the ground. Van Fleet was 9-of-17, with Rataiczak catching three balls for 77 yards and DeVolld landing three for 56, and DeVolld had 63 rushing on 19 attempts.

Both teams face county rivals on the road in Week 10 – Barnesville at Union Local in a western Belmont County showdown and Shenandoah at Caldwell in the battle of Noble County.

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