When in doubt get the ball to the best player on the field.
That was pretty much the plan Friday, Sept. 30, as Jonathan Alder got on the back of Northwestern University-bound wide receiver Trey Pugh and the standout carried the Pioneers Buckeye Valley. The formula worked as the senior carried the team to a 28-20 victory.
“I’ve said this the last year or so, but he’s the best player we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Jonathan Alder coach Brett Glass said. “We lose Andrew Koenig, and Trey absolutely carried us on both sides until he couldn’t do any more.”
Pugh who signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Wildcats earlier in the day, lined up at wide receiver, running back and quarterback and did his thing on offense, the 230-pound bruiser plowed his way through a Barons defense which struggled to bring him down.
But it was his effort on the defensive end that made the difference at the end of the game.
Pugh scored on a 43-yard run with 5:42 to play in the first quarter, the following PAT was good and the home team 7-0.
Buckeye Valley (3-3) put together a strong drive on its ensuing possession but the Barons turned the ball over on downs at the Alder 28-yard line.
Alder (6-0) again went on a long drive, one that ended with Pugh carrying the ball six straight times before finally crossing the goal line on a 1-yard run. A successful PAT made it 14-0.
Just when it seemed like Alder would pull away the visitors changed things up. Buckeye Valley keyed on Pugh and the Alder defense began to sputter.
The Barons who feature their own collection of talented players answered with a sustained drive that ended with a 5-yard scoring strike from quarterback Ben Spaulding to Chris Santillan, a failed PAT try made it 14-6.
On the ensuing kick, Buckeye Valley’s Carson James recovered an on-side kick attempt and the Barons went back on the attack. Buckeye Valley moved to the Pioneers 22-yard line but Alder’s defense came up with a 4th-down stop giving the Pioneers the ball back with 4:01 to play in the half.
Neither teams scored the rest of the half.
Buckeye Valley picked off a Preston Eisnaugle pass and turned it into a touchdown early in the third quarter when Trent Davies scored on a 7-yard touchdown run, the 2-point conversion pass from Spaulding to Santillan tying the game at 14-14.
The scoreboard went dark at Volunteer Field, literally. But it was Trey Pugh who put the Pioneers back in the lead with a bruising 7-yard run where he broke two tackles and rumbled into the endzone.
Spaulding scored on a 5-yard run after putting the Barons in scoring position on a long pass to Santillan. The Barons went for a 2-point conversion try but the pass fell incomplete, making the score 21-20.
Alder finally got its big-play offense going when Jamie Dye scampered 62 yards for a score, the successful PAT kick by Ethan Gordin making it 28-20 Alder late in the third quarter.
Valley marched down the field late in the fourth quarter, it moved to the Alder 29 yard line on a 4th-and-20 pass interference penalty. But on the very next play, a 4th-and 5 Pugh came barreling through the line and crushed Spaulding for a sack, turning the ball back over to Alder.
The Pioneers lined Pugh up at quarterback the rest of the way and the senior ran out the clock.
“It was ugly, with the field (wet, muddy), we did what we had to do to win and came out with some big stops at the end,” Glass said.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.