ARCANUM – Arcanum won its fourth consecutive game on Friday, defeating Mississinawa Valley 56-6 to give itself a chance to finish the year at .500 after starting 0-5.
The Trojans’ five-game losing streak to start the season squashed their hopes of winning a Cross County Conference championship and making the playoffs, but they’ve refocused in the second half of the season to improve to 4-5.
“I told them when we were 0-5 that we’ve got five games left so we have a season now of five games and our goal is to win them all,” said Arcanum football coach TJ Powers, whose team celebrated senior night on Friday. “You’ve got to play one at a time and all that, but you do have to refocus yourselves when you have a tough start like that. I’m just really proud of the guys for persevering and getting to this point.”
Arcanum dominated all facets of the game on Friday night. Both teams ran 42 offensive plays, but the Trojans out-gained the Blackhawks with 416 yards compared to the visitors’ 151. Arcanum also had 17 first downs compared the MV’s four.
Arcanum took control early as Cole Burrell intercepted a Mississinawa Valley pass on the second play from scrimmage and returned it to the Blackhawk 17-yard line. Two plays later Daniel O’Donnell ran 13 yards for a touchdown, and Arcanum led 6-0 just 71 seconds into the game.
After Arcanum’s defense forced a three-and-out, the Trojan offense continued to click. Daniel Coats and O’Donnell picked up big chunks of yardage on the ground, and then O’Donnell connected with Coats for a 30-yard touchdown pass. With Brandon Kinney running for a two-point conversion, Arcanum led 14-0 four minutes into the game.
Mississinawa Valley picked up a first down during its third possession on a 12-yard run by Tyler Jenkinson but again had to punt shortly thereafter.
The Blackhawks’ defense still couldn’t stop the Trojan offense as Arcanum went 72 yards in six plays during its third possession with O’Donnell connecting with Kinney for a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-0.
After Arcanum forced another three-and-out for Mississinawa, the Trojans scored in just two plays with O’Donnell running 28 yards and then throwing 17 yards to Jordan Dubbs for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
“We know we don’t throw much, and everybody knows we’re not going to throw much, but we just wanted to come out and work on the passing game a little bit,” Powers said. “I know we only threw three times, but, hey, 3-for-3 is pretty good.”
Following another Mississinawa Valley three-and-out, Kinney raced 35 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first quarter. Dalton Geesy blocked the extra point, and Arcanum led 33-0 just 12 minutes into the contest.
Another three-and-out led to another MV punt, which O’Donnell returned all the way to the Blackhawks’ 22, and two plays later he ran 18 yards for a touchdown. Geesy again blocked the extra point to make the score 39-0 with 9:58 left in the second quarter.
“Dalton is a physical force,” Mississinawa Valley coach Patrick Baker said. “For somebody in college, he’s one of those kids who is going to have a chance to go on. Somebody in college is going to be a steal because he’ll get to weight lift all year round, he’ll get a position coach to coach him, he’ll get to play one side of the ball, he loves the weight room … that kid is going to be a steal for somebody.”
Mississinawa Valley picked up another first down on its next possession when Trenton Perkins ran 11 yards on a fake punt. The Hawks couldn’t capitalize, though, and punted moments later.
Arcanum started to take out its starters midway through the second quarter, and for the first time all night Mississinawa Valley prevented Arcanum from scoring a touchdown. However, Christian Sanchez came through for the home team and booted a 36-yard field goal to make it 42-0.
“We were getting starters out in the second quarter, which is big for our program to be able to get guys to play, guys that are going to be helping us in the future,” Powers said.
In the second half Arcanum picked up where it left off in the first half with the Trojans going 56 yards in five plays with a 5-yard touchdown run by Austin Baker making it 49-0.
Mississinawa Valley responded on the ensuing possession. On a third-and-1 Tyler Jenkinson busted free for a 66-yard touchdown run, getting the Blackhawks on the scoreboard and making it 49-6.
Any momentum from the run quickly went away, though, as Burrell returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and a 56-6 Arcanum lead.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, and the game ended with a 56-6 Arcanum victory.
“Effort is good again,” Baker said of the Blackhawks. “For the most part our effort has been good all season. It’s just the execution and playing under the lights. We play with a lot of young kids. And obviously we all know what this program is, and we’re not going to fix it overnight. It just kind of is what it is. Anybody who thinks that needs to reexamine that statement. We’ll get there. We’ll get there. I think our effort is there.”
For the night Arcanum gained 359 rushing yards on 39 carries and 57 passing yards on three passes.
O’Donnell was 3-for-3 passing for 57 yards and three touchdowns – connecting with Coats, Dubbs and Kinney for the scores. The Trojan quarterback also ran the ball seven times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Pierce Lindemuth ran six times for 76 yards, Kinney ran four times for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Baker ran three times for 29 yards and a touchdown.
“I always say it, it’s a simple game; it’s blocking and tackling,” Powers said. “We blocked well, and we tackled well. And up front we really pushed them around, and we had a few good reads … a lot of good reads and a lot of good checks offensively that gave us the opportunity to have those big holes. Plus our offensive line really did a number up front tonight.”
Burrell and Christian Layman had interceptions for Arcanum.
Mississinawa Valley ran 24 times for 116 yards and was 4-of-18 passing for 35 yards.
Trenton Perkins completed two passes for 29 yards and threw an interception.
Jenkinson caught a pair of passes for 26 yards. He also ran five times for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Arcanum is now 4-5 on the season and 3-4 in the CCC while Mississinawa Valley is 0-9 overall and 0-8 in the CCC.
Arcanum will conclude its season on Friday at Bethel, who is 5-4 and coming off a 48-27 win against Ansonia. Mississinawa Valley will play host to Troy Christian, who is 4-4 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, to end its season.
“These next seven days are for the seniors,” Baker said. “We have a couple kids that have a chance to go on (and play college football). But a coach told me a long time ago football is a terminal condition. So it’s all going to end for us one day or another. We’re all going to be in that shoe one day. Let’s put our best foot forward for our seniors.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.