BRANDT – Arcanum finished its season Friday night on a five-game winning streak, defeating Bethel 65-22 to end the season with a 5-5 record.
“I think they did great,” said Arcanum football coach TJ Powers, whose team rebounded from a 0-5 start and won its final five games of the season. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that we did have some adversity there in the first half, and we battled through it. We talked about at halftime just being classy, being good sports. I think they had five or six personal fouls, and we didn’t have any. We didn’t retaliate. We kept our heads. I’m just really proud of the guys. And this senior group, to send them out the way we did, it’s something special because this is a special group for me personally just because they were freshmen my first year here.”
It was the final high school football game for Arcanum’s 10 seniors – Austin Baker, Cole Burrell, Jordan Dubbs, Austin Gibboney, Mike Johnson, Michael Lee, Daniel O’Donnell, Christian Sanchez, Hunter Saunders and Logan Wilson – and the Trojans wanted to send them out with a victory.
“It’s a great group of kids, a special group of kids,” Powers said. “I’ll never forget them. I’m proud of them.”
The game started off great for Arcanum in its quest for a season-ending victory as the Trojans forced the Bees into a three-and-out during the first possession of the game.
Then Arcanum put together a five-play, 46-yard scoring drive with a 27-yard run by O’Donnell setting up Brandon Kinney for a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 8:18 left on the first quarter clock.
After Bethel had another three-and-out, Kinney busted free for a 53-yard touchdown run on Arcanum’s next offensive play to make it 13-0.
Bethel gained a pair of first downs on its next possession but had its drive end when Arcanum stopped the Bees on a fake punt at the Bethel 44-yard line. One play later, Kinney broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run to put Arcanum up 20-0 with 2:06 remaining in the opening quarter.
Following another Bethel three-and-out, Arcanum put together a four-play, 48-yard scoring drive with O’Donnell racing 22 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to make it 26-0.
“I had to sound arrogant, but I knew we would,” Powers said of Arcanum’s fast start. “I feel like we’re playing the best football we’ve been playing here in a long time at this point in the year. I wish we had about five more games or I wish it was like Indiana and you automatically get in the postseason because I don’t think a whole lot of teams would want to play us right now.”
Facing a 26-point deficit, Bethel finally got going beginning with Noah Burrowes returning a kickoff to the Arcanum 42-yard line. Burrowes picked up three first downs on the drive, which included runs of 11 and 27 yards on a pair of fourth downs, to set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Jacob Evans for a touchdown to cut Arcanum’s lead to 26-7 with 6:29 remaining in the first half.
Bethel then recovered the ensuing kick to set up the Bees at their own 43-yard line. Runs by Evans plus a facemask penalty on Arcanum allowed Bethel to march down the field and eventually score on a 27-yard run by Evans to make it a 26-14 game with 4:57 left in the second quarter.
“They run a good option system,” Powers said. “They’re well coached, and we were just kind of subtlety missing our assignment. We were getting to the right spots. It’s just a little bit off, maybe a half yard off, and their quarterback is going to be a really good player. No. 10, he’s only a sophomore.”
After giving up 14 consecutive points to Bethel, Arcanum responded.
After Burrell returned the ensuing kick all the way to the Arcanum 42, runs by O’Donnell and Kinney plus an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Bethel moved the Trojans down the Bees’ 24-yard line. One play later O’Donnell connected with a wide open Daniel Coats for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-14 with 2:46 remaining in the second quarter.
Bethel’s offense continued to click on the next drive as the Bees went 76 yards in nine plays with Evans finding Tyler Terry for a 30-yard touchdown pass to cap off the drive. With a successful two-point conversion run, Bethel had Arcanum’s lead down to 33-22 with 35.3 seconds left in the half.
But the second half was all Arcanum. After Wilson recovered the second half-opening kick at the Arcanum 41, Arcanum marched down the field with O’Donnell, Coats and Kinney each picking up big chunks of yardage. Kinney finished off the drive with a 2-yard run to make it 40-22 with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
Bethel then fumbled on its first offensive play of the second half, which Coats recovered to give Arcanum the ball. Bethel also was called for a personal foul on the play, setting up Arcanum at the Bees’ 7-yard line. Moments later O’Donnell found Andrew Baker for a 6-yard touchdown pass to put Arcanum up 46-22 with 7:58 remaining in the third quarter.
After Bethel went three-and-out during its next possession, Arcanum continued to move down the field with O’Donnell finishing off the Trojan drive with a 23-yard run. With the score now standing at 53-22, the running clock commenced with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
Bethel continued to spiral and fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Gibboney recovered at the Bethel 23-yard line. Six plays later Austin Baker ran for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 59-22 with 10:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Following another Bethel three-and-out, Arcanum’s offense again moved down the field and scored on a 4-yard run by Austin Baker to cap off a five-play, 46-yard drive and make it 65-22 with 5:03 left in the game.
With both teams subbing in their backups, the clock wound down and Arcanum finished with the night with the 65-22 win.
Arcanum finished the season with a 5-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the Cross County Conference while Bethel also finished 5-5 overall and 4-4 in the CCC.
On Friday night Arcanum had 416 total yards of offense while Bethel managed 204. Arcanum out-gained Bethel on the ground with 386 rushing yards compared to 111 for the Bees. Bethel had more success gaining yards through the air than Arcanum with 93 yards passing compared to the Trojans’ 30.
Bethel had 135 penalty yards while Arcanum had 50. Bethel also had two turnovers on the night while Arcanum had none.
For Arcanum O’Donnell was 2-of-3 passing for 30 yards and two touchdowns. Coats caught one pass for a 24-yard touchdown, and Andrew Baker caught a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Kinney led the Trojans’ rushing attack with 145 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries. O’Donnell had 131 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Coats gained 80 yards on seven carries. Austin Baker had 5 yards and two touchdowns on two carries.
For Bethel Evans was 8-of-12 passing for 93 yards and one touchdown. Terry caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, and Burrowes caught three passes for 43 yards.
Evans also was the Bees’ leading rusher with 55 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Matt First had 29 yards on nine carries, and Burrowes had 27 yards on eight carries.
Having bounced back from a 0-5 start to finish the season .500, Powers said he was really proud of his players and hoped they learned some lessons from their season.
“Football is a great life lesson,” he said. “Football is like life. It is life, you know. It teaches life skills. You know what they learned this year, I told them is I hope you learned to never give up and continue to battle and persevere because that’s what we did this year. It’s a testament to the kids.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.