Big plays give Goshen comfortable win over Hillsboro in home opener

Goshen’s Marcus Casey cuts upfield during a run in the first half during the Warriors home opener on Aug. 31 against Hillsboro.

Goshen’s Marcus Casey cuts upfield during a run in the first half during the Warriors home opener on Aug. 31 against Hillsboro.
Hillsboro’s inability to contain the Goshen running game led to multiple big-play touchdowns for the Warriors that put them out of the Indians’ reach, going on to win 41-7 on Aug. 31 in a non-league contest.

“Naturally, we’re happy with the win and we were pleased with the improvements that we saw from week one to week two,” Goshen head coach Mark Slagle said. “That’s the big thing, we need to continually get better every week and strive to work on the things that you’re deficient in.”

The Warriors offense started the night on a positive note with a fluid drive down the field, but were unable to convert their opening drive into points when Brandon Buckstah missed a short field goal try.

The Hillsboro offense tried to capitalize on the momentum gained on the defensive side of the ball, converting multiple fourth-down conversions, but a fumbled hand off put the brakes on perhaps the most promising scoring drive the Indians had seen nearly a quarter and a half into the game.

On the first play following the fumbled hand off, Goshen senior running back Marcus Casey broke his first of two long touchdown runs to put the Warriors up 7-0.

“We had a lot of big plays on offense,” Slagle said. “That ended up being the difference. We’ve got some real talented kids there who run the ball and then the line did a great job blocking. That was probably the area of improvement that I was most happy with.”

Following a quick Hillsboro possession, the Warriors found the end zone once again, this time on an 18-yard touchdown run by Jake Nelson. A blocked extra point left the Warriors with a 13-0 lead.

With time winding down in the second quarter and Hillsboro’s back against the wall, the Indians’ quarterback Logan Lesley hooked up with Zach Young for a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-10.

“(The defense) only gave up the one pass play for a touchdown, but if you look back on that game, Hillsboro… converted a lot of third-and-short and fourth down conversions,” Slagle said of his defensive unit. “We need to do a better job of getting off of the field on third down.”

Just as quickly as the Indians had stolen the momentum, the Warriors took it right back, as Goshen scored on a tipped pass from Brandon Steele to Mike Davis with five seconds remaining in the half. The Warriors converted their two-point conversion to lead 21-7 at the break.

“Right before the half we had that big pass from Steele to Davis for 48 yards,” Slagle said. “At that time, it was a one touchdown game so to get that right before the half was a big boost for the kids.”

Fortunately for Goshen fans, the second half brought more of the same.

Following a promising opening drive to the second half that milked most of the third quarter, the Indians stalled out inside Goshen’s 10-yard line only to have Steele take a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-one 91 yards to the house, putting the Indians behind 28-7.

“That came at a time when the game was still up for grabs,” Slagle said. “We had a lead, but it wasn’t salted away and we were deep in our territory and he goes 91 yards and made it a little more comfortable.”

Following a Goshen fumble with 8:52 remaining, Hillsboro’s offense stalled once again and similarly to earlier in the game, the Warriors scored another long touchdown on Casey’s second scoring run, this one from 69 yards.

The scoring was capped off when Jimmy Carr blocked a Hillsboro punt with 3:19 remaining, recovered the loose ball and scored to end the game with a final score of 41-7.

At 2-0 the Warriors are sitting in prime position as the Southern Buckeye Conference kicks off this coming Friday, Aug. 7 and Slagle hopes to keep building on the strong start.

“We’re happy to be 2-0, but our focus always has been to win the SBC championship,” he said. “That starts this week and the next several weeks after that. The conference is real balanced and you have to come out and play every Friday night because if you don’t bring your A-game, you’re going to get knocked off.”

The Warriors will travel to face Bethel-Tate on Aug. 7 to start their run of eight straight games against SBC opponents.