There have been very few times this season that Jonathan Alder’s state-ranked football team has trailed during a game.
The two instances the Pioneers did fall behind Friday evening proved not to be too troublesome as Alder ran its record to 6-0 with a 35-16 triumph at Kenton Ridge.
The victory was important on two fronts.
First, it was a divisional win within the Central Buckeye Conference.
Secondly, it firmed Alder’s No. 1 position in Region 11 of the Division III computer ratings.
“It was good to get a big victory over a quality team like Kenton Ridge (now 4-2),” said Pioneer head coach Brett Glass. “That’s a team that’s going to win more games this season.”
The Cougars took the game’s opening kickoff and wiped nearly five minutes off the clock with a 10-play drive.
All they got out of the series, though, was Calvin Dibert’s 19-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Pioneers brushed off that kick for what it was …. a very small bump in the middle of the road.
JA went right to work on its first possession as senior tailback Garret Proxmire did yeoman’s work on the ground.
Proxmire has gashed opposing defenses each week as the Pioneers’ main ball carrier.
Opponents know who is going to carry the ball, but no one seems to be able to stop him. His 216 yards on 27 attempts on Friday just added to his season legacy.
Quarterback JT Keith mixed in a few passes along the way, including a four-yard flip to Jackson Izzard for the score.
Dylan Moore’s extra point gave Alder a 7-3 edge it carried into the second period.
The Cougars regained the lead at 10-7 early in the second stanza when quarterback Dylan Lemen capped a series that began toward the tail end of the first quarter.
He scampered for a 17-yard TD and Dibert added the extra point to give Kenton Ridge a 10-7 margin.
Glass was impressed with the work done by the Cougars’ signal-caller.
The Alder coach knew Lemen could do some damage with his legs, as his 25 carries for 150 yards proved.
“We knew we’d have to limit Lemen on the ground and any big plays they might make by passing the ball,” said Glass. “He’s a heck of a player, but our defensive line stayed in its zones and later got some sacks on him.”
Undaunted by the Cougars’ go-ahead score, the Pioneers quickly regained the lead.
Keith connected with Jacob Fenik on a 75-yard scoring pass.
Moore’s extra point gave Jonathan Alder a 14-10 advantage.
JA forced the Cougars to punt after a short series and widened its margin when Keith tossed a 20-yard scoring strike to Izzard.
Moore’s extra point helped Alder take a 21-10 lead into halftime.
Proxmire worked more of his magic during the opening drive of the third quarter. He relentlessly punished the Cougar defense by picking up multiple yards each time he touched the ball.
He concluded the possession with a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
Moore’s conversion with 8:16 left in the third quarter pushed Alder out to a 28-10 lead.
Kenton Ridge moved the ball down the field on its next possession, but later lost it on downs after Fenik broke up a pass inside the five-yard-line.
JA, which will host Bellefontaine on Friday, couldn’t do anything with the pigskin as action moved into the fourth quarter.
A shanked Alder punt left the Cougars in good position at midfield.
They used that territory to their advantage as Lemen worked the ball closer to the end line.
Matt Wichael scored a touchdown from three yards out, narrowing the gap to 28-16.
The Cougars’ opportunity to pull even closer ended when Dibert’s reverse on the two-point conversion attempt fell short of the mark.
Jonathan Alder moved against Kenton Ridge’s defensive unit en route to an insurance touchdown.
Proxmire carried the ball on four straight plays, but coughed it up.
Izzard, however, alertly fell on the ball at midfield, which allowed JA to retain possession.
Proxmire returned to his sure-handed ways, moving the ball down to the Kenton Ridge three-yard-line.
From there, Keith connected with Izzard for another score.
Moore was spot-on with the conversion, pushing Alder out to a 35-16 spread.
The Cougars were able to find holes in JA’s defense and moved the ball downfield as the clock sped toward its conclusion.
However, they lost possession on downs at the Alder nine-yard-line.
Keith then took a knee in the victory formation to run out the clock.
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