OLD WASHINGTON - Buckeye Trail High rode its "horse" on Friday night to steamroll past visiting Barnesville in a 43-12 romp at the Baker Activity Center.
That "horse" was senior standout Austin Snodgrass who exploded for 289 yards rushing on 29 carries and a total of five TDs in the contest to help the Warriors improve to 2-1 on the season.
"Austin is just something special," Trail mentor Donnie Kerns stated. "He’s the best player on the field and you just have to get him the football.
"When you have a kid like that, you can’t try to outthink yourself," Kerns continued. "You just get him the ball and ride your ‘horse’, so to speak, and that’s what we did."
Snodgrass’s big night boosted his season stats to an impressive 640 yards on 57 attempts for a sparkling 11.2 yards-per-carry average with eight rushing TDs through the first three weeks.
Barnesville’s first-year coach Blake Allen was well aware of Snodgrass’ ability coming int the game and tried to get his ‘Rocks prepared for the challenge.
"Our plan all week was to stop Snodgrass and make someone else beat us," Allen explained. "But give him all the credit...he’s a talented kid and he runs very hard with a purpose. Several times I thought we had him hemmed in and just couldn’t get him on the ground."
Snodgrass got started on his big night early with a pair of first quarter TD runs, the first coming on a one-yard dive to open the scoring at the 3:29 mark.
Snodgrass than broke off a 46-yard jaunt to paydirt with just 32 seconds left for a 14-0 Buckeye Trail advantage, with junior Seth Hughes booting both PAT kicks through the uprights.
Barnesville then got on the scoreboard to open the second stanza with a big play - junior QB Cade Hannahs connecting with senior Jacob Gallaway on a 69-yard touchdown pass with 11:50 left in the first half to pull the ‘Rocks within 14-6.
Through the first three games, the ‘Rocks have shown the ability to strike with the big plays but have not been able to mount many offensive scoring drives thus far.
"Sure, I love those big plays," Coach Allen offered, "but we need to be more consistent and put together some long scoring drives. That would help keep our defense off the field some and get some rest. We just need to continue to improve in that area for sure."
Snodgrass quickly answered the Barnesville score by ripping off a long 70-yard TD run followed by six-yard scoring scamper to push the Warriors’ lead out to 28-6 at the 5:12 mark of the second period.
"I want to give major kudos to both our offensive and defensive lines tonight," Kerns said. "That’s where it all starts - in the trenches - and I thought we really played well in that area.
"I also thought our defensive effort was great," the BT coach added. "Our defensive coaches had a good game plan and I probably cost us a touchdown when I wanted to change somehting up. That’s on me...I should have left well-enough alone."
Snodgrass reached the end zone for the fifth and final time to start the second half, racing in on a 34-yard TD sprint to push the lead out to 36-6 at the 8:32 mark of the third quarter.
Cade Hannahs then collected his second TD strike of the game for the ‘Rocks as time expired in the third period with a one-yard toss to Neil Gibbons to pull the visitors closer at 36-12 entering the final quarter.
Despite the lopsided loss, Barnesville did have a positive note to build on in its passing game as Cade Hannahs finished his night hitting on 10-of-22 passes for 164 yards with the pair of TD strikes.
Freshman Gage Hannahs led the Barnesville (1-2) receivers with four catches for 32 yards, with Gallaway adding three receptions for 83 and the second quarter TD.
"We took some positive steps tonight in the passing game," Allen offered. "Cade threw the football much better tonight and that’s something we can build on."
Buckeye Trail might have saved the best for last in the scoring department courtesy of senior Chase Stillion with the game’s final touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-7 at the Barnesville 11-yard line, Stillion took the ball and headed toward the left corner of the end zone before running into heavy traffic from the ‘Rocks defense.
Stillion promptly reversed his field and bobbed and weaved his way into the end zone with 5:44 left in the game for the final count of 43-12.
"That touchdown from Chase might be the best play I’ve seen," Kerns stated. "Chase is good enough to give us another option to go with Austin which is nice."
Stillion just missed hitting the 100-yard mark, finishing with 90 yards on just nine totes.
NEXT - This Friday, Buckeye Trail travels to Claymont while Barnesville hosts Shenandoah. Kick-off at both sites is slated for 7 p.m.