HENRIETTA TWP. — The Buckeye football team is making a statement on its way out the door.
Firelands was the latest victim of the Patriot Athletic Conference farewell tour, as the Bucks jumped on the Falcons early and rolled to a 50-12 win.
Buckeye (7-1, 3-0) bullied its way to 23 first-quarter points and had the Stars Division game in hand by halftime. Five Bucks found the end zone in their 26th consecutive division victory.
Buckeye, which was voted out of the PAC prior to this season by the other member schools, who will rename the league the Lorain County Conference, has won 39 of its last 41 regular-season games. The Bucks will join the Great Lakes Conference next fall.
“You have to come out with the same mentality every game, knowing you’ve got a big target on your back,” said fullback Armando Nigh, who rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns. “That’s one of the reasons they wanted us out of our conference. We approach every game the same way, like this is our last chance. They didn’t want us in this conference anymore, so we really want to make a statement on our way out.”
Firelands (4-4, 2-1) struggled on both sides of the ball. The Falcons’ defense allowed 337 rushing yards on 45 attempts (7.4 yards per carry), while their offense managed just 55 rushing yards on 20 attempts. Thirty-three yards came on a Blake Ruffner touchdown.
It was a bounce-back game for the Bucks offense. Last week in a 38-6 win over Black River, Buckeye managed just 198 total yards.
“They’ve been doing a good job like that all year,” Buckeye coach Greg Dennison said of his offensive line. “We have good leaders on our offensive line, and we’re just solid all the way across. Last week we kind of took a step back, and this week we got back to where we want to be.”
Anthony Watkins also eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for Buckeye, carrying the ball four times for a game-high 114 yards and a touchdown. His 83-yard score in the second quarter gave the Bucks a 30-0 lead.
Dom Monaco added a 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, giving Buckeye a 36-0 lead at halftime. The second half was played with a running clock.
“You win these kinds of games in practice, and we had a really good week of practice,” Nigh said. “Coming off our last game, we did kind of get embarrassed on offense, so that was a big part of our mindset coming into this one.
“We needed to prove what we could do. We wanted to come out and end this game early because if you give a team a chance, if you give them hope in your heart, it makes the game a lot tougher.”
“They have some really, really good young players,” he said of the Falcons. “When you can jump on a team that’s young like that early, it makes a big difference.”
Ruffner did everything he could for Firelands. He led the defense with 14 tackles (3 for loss), scored on a 33-yard run and threw a 65-yard touchdown to Alex Angle late in the game.
“Bottom line is he’s a scholarship athlete,” Falcons coach Ryan O’Rourke said. “I hope people recognize that and I hope he continues playing this game because he does a lot of things that are special. He’s just an extremely talented kid. He can do things on his own that you can’t teach. You’ve got to let a kid like that run free and appreciate him while you have him.”
Contact Mike Perry at email@example.com.
Buckeye 50, Firelands 12
BUCKEYE 23 13 14 0 — 50
FIRELANDS 0 0 6 6 — 12
B —Jacob Doerge 11 run (Clay Gunkelman kick), 8:58.
B —Armando Nigh, 8 run (Gunkelman kick), 5:02.
B —Safety (Jacob Farley tackled in end zone), 3:44.
B — Dom Monaco 7 run (Gunkelman kick), 2:57.
B — Anthony Watkins 83 run (Gunkelman kick), 3:47.
B — Monaco 41 pass from Doerge (pass failed), 1:51.
B — Nigh 17 run (Gunkelman kick), 9:33.
F — Blake Ruffner 33 run (run failed), 5:53.
B — John Buckley 4 run (Gunkelman kick), 0:50.
F — Alex Angle 65 pass from Ruffner (run failed), 6:54.