Batavia’s Holman Stadium played host to one of only eight games in the state of Ohio to feature two undefeated football teams on Friday, September 21. When the final horn sounded, it was clear which team was the top dog.
The Bulldogs trounced Fayetteville in week five action, earning a 42-8 win over the Rockets to start the season 5-0 overall. Fayetteville had been 4-0 entering the game, but a ferocious defense and a strong ground game was simply too much for the Rockets to overcome.
Jason Griffin got things started early for Batavia, scoring on a 47-yard touchdown run with 5:48 left in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Rockets and a punt by Batavia, Bulldogs senior Kaleb Moell laid the lumber on a Fayetteville ballcarrier, forcing a fumble and giving his team the ball at the Rocket 20. Moell kept the ball himself, scoring on a two-yard touchdown run just before the end of the quarter to give Batavia a 14-0 lead.
Batavia struck roughly five minutes into the second period. After a long run by Griffin and a decent gain by Alex Jones, Moell hit Alex Byrd in the back of the end zone to put Batavia on top 21-0.
Cannon Sheets blocked the ensuing Rocket punt, but Batavia fumbled the ball back. Penalties and a poor punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at the 10-yard line, and Moell hit Griffin for a 10-yard pass on the first play for a 28-0 lead.
The Bulldogs added one more score in the first half. After a Fayetteville interception on a pass intended for Deven Williams, Williams responded with an interception of his own. He returned the ball to the Rocket 14, where Moell capped off the drive with a one-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 35-0 lead at the break.
Batavia’s final score came in the third quarter on a five-yard run by Blake Casey. Bowen Doane hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from C.J. McCulley for Fayetteville later in the period to finish off the scoring.
With the win, the Bulldogs have finished a combined 9-1 in non-conference play over the last two seasons and are the lone remaining undefeated team in either division of the Southern Buckeye Conference. Head coach Scott Donaldson said that the victory is nice, but with conference play looming next week, the team can’t dwell on the past.
“It feels really good,” Donaldson said. “Like I was telling them, we’re just getting started. It’s a long season. We have yet to play a league game. The hard work starts now.”
Batavia finished the game with 317 yards of total offense, 248 on the ground. The Bulldogs’ coaching staff put in a solid game plan, according to Donaldson, and the players on the field took it from there.
“We had a good game plan,” Donaldson said. “We have four really good coaches, and we executed well. We have some good athletes, and they played well. We had a couple dumb penalties, but we didn’t really hurt ourselves in any way, and that’s key.”
Griffin led Batavia with 130 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He also scored once. Blake Casey had eight carries for 23 yards and a score, while Alex Jones added 44 yards on five attempts. Kaleb Moell had four tries for 14 yards and two touchdowns.
Donaldson said the team’s rushing success starts up front with the play of the offensive line.
“Our offensive line has been together for a while now, they’ve been gelling,” Donaldson said. “I like our offense, it’s their third year in it and they’re starting to understand it.”
Defensively, Batavia limited Fayetteville’s Hunter Jester, who entered the game with 630 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in four games.
“We were keying on him,” Donaldson said. “We knew we had to stop him, we knew we had to stop [Doane]. Those were the kids we were keying on. We knew if we took away those two they would struggle with other people to fill in. He was a major one, we shifted a couple alignments they had. We blanketed [Doane] with some double coverage.”
Fayetteville head coach Kevin Finch praised the Batavia defense, specifically the way the team was able to get his Rocket offense out of rhythm.
“Hats off to Batavia, they’re a solid football team,” Finch said. “They took a few things away that we like to do, and we couldn’t get into a rhythm. The first half, they really controlled the ball and kept our offense off the field. We were never able to get in that groove that we like to get into. Hats off to them and their effort.”
Moell finished the game with six passes completed in nine attempts for 69 yards. Four of those completed passes went to Griffin, who finished with 48 yards. Jones had one catch for 11 yards and Byrd had one for an 11-yard score.
Five different Batavia players scored a touchdown against the Rockets. That, combined with the lopsided score, allowed the Bulldogs to work in players lower on the depth chart.
“We got some junior varsity players in,” Donaldson said.”We had our second string in for a lot of it. Trying to keep everybody fresh and trying to build some experience.”
The Bulldogs open conference play on the road at Clinton-Massie on Friday, September 28. The Falcons finished the 2017 season 13-2 overall, falling to Steubenville 50-36 in the Division IV state championship game.
“It’s going to be tough,” Donaldson said. “We’re going to go up there and give it our best.”