Times Bulletin photo
Crestview’s Matt Holden (25) breaks away from Allen East defenders during the Knights’ game against the Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 25, in Convoy.
Times Bulletin photo Crestview’s Matt Holden (25) breaks away from Allen East defenders during the Knights’ game against the Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 25, in Convoy.
BY DREW BITTNER

Times Bulletin Sports Editor

sports@timesbulletin.com

CONVOY - Somewhere, Woody Hayes is smiling. With the raining falling and the field wet, Friday's game between Crestview and Allen East embodied everything "three yards and a cloud of dust" was meant to be - a smashmouth, run the football showdown. And when the dust had settled in Convoy, it was the Knights who emerged with an 8-7 victory.

Allen East stormed out of the gate to open the game, only taking three plays to put the first points on the board. After he fumbled on the opening play from scrimmage - recovered by Allen East - the Mustangs' Aaron Swaney took a sweep around the right side for a 26-yard gain. That set up running back Levi Hoy on the following play, as the big back took a handoff up the middle and was gone, rushing 43 yards for the score. Swaney's extra point attempt was good and the Mustangs were on top 7-0 with only 1:19 taken off the clock in the first quarter.

The Knights offense struggled to get much going on their opening possession - compounded by a 25-yard run by back Matt Holden called back due to an illegal formation penalty - and were forced to punt the ball away.

Crestview's defense, however, regrouped after allowing Allen East's opening score, and forced another Swaney fumble, with Dallis Gibson of Crestview pouncing on the loose ball. Unfortunately, the Knights offense sputtered again and Crestview punted the ball away once more.

The Knights' defense continued to answer the bell, though, and despite another punt by Crestview, forced Allen East into two punts of their own.

With just over five minutes remaining the first half, Crestview regained possession of the ball after one of those Allen East punts, although Swaney's boot pinned the Knights down at their own 10-yard line.

The Knights offense finally showed signs of life, though, as the Knights used two big passes from quarterback Cody Hagaman to receiver Noah Gebert to drive deep into Mustangs' territory. Crestview continued to drive until they reached the Allen East four-yard line, when the Mustangs' defense tightened up and forced Crestview into a fourth-and-four situation.

Opting not to kick a field goal, the Knights went for it, and a sweep right to Holden was stopped just short of the goal line - coming up mere inches short - and Allen East took over possession.

It turned out to be a slight blessing-in-disguise for Crestview, however, as a few plays later, the Knights' defense brought down Swaney in the end zone for a safety with only 58 seconds remaining in the half.

After the free pick, Crestview attempted to throw deep down the field on the first play, only to have the pass picked by Allen East's Sean Anderson. No damage was done, though, as the Mustangs couldn't capitalize and the teams headed into the locker room at halftime with the score still at 7-2.

The entire third quarter was a defensive clinic by both teams, as Crestview's two possessions ended with a punt and a turnover on downs, and the Mustangs' series ended with a punt as well.

The Knights deflected an Allen East pass on a long fourth-and-11 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, and took over at their own 24-yard line.

And that's when Crestview's offense started to click.

On the first play of the drive, Hagaman dropped back and hit receiver Drew Nofer on a deep slant and Nofer took the ball 56 yards down the field to the Mustangs' 20-yard line.

Crestview used a steady diet of hard-nosed runs, including a gritty fourth-and-1 conversion on a sneak by Hagaman, to drive inside the Mustangs' 5-yard line.

Steven Pierce capped off the drive with a two-yard run up the gut to give Crestview their first offensive points of the night. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Knights had gained the lead, 8-7 with 6:35 remaining in the contest.

After both teams traded punts again, Allen East took over with their last chance at putting something together. The Mustangs were able to drive inside Crestview territory, but the Knights' defense stayed strong, and forced a turnover on downs.

The 8-7 mark proved to be enough, as Crestview kneeled three consecutive plays to run out the clock and claim the victory.

After the game, Crestview coach Jason Cross commented on the hard-fought victory.

"That's as hard-nosed of a football game as you will get," said Cross. "That was two football teams that just ran the ball better than 95 percent of the time. And you've got to be hard-nosed and our kids stepped up when we needed it."

"We shut down their main stud, the (Aaron) Swaney kid," continued Cross. "We came up with plays when we needed it most. A win is great for us right now. We needed it. The kids needed it. I'm happy for these guys. They've worked so hard for it and I'm glad they got the win.

Holden was the leading rusher for Crestview, carrying the ball 26 times for 87 yards. Pierce finished with 16 carries for 43 yards and a score.

Cody Hagaman was 3 of 6 passing for 98 yards on the night and Noah Gebert was the leading receiver with two catches for 42 yards. Drew Nofer added a catch for 56 yards.

For Allen East, Hoy led the ground attack, rushing 15 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.

Swaney was 1 of 8 passing for 8 yards and Andrew Rettig caught the lone pass for the Mustangs.

Allen East falls to 1-4 on the year and 1-3 in conference play. Crestview improves to 2-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Northwest Conference.

Team 1 2 3 4 F

Allen East 7 0 0 0 7

Crestview 0 2 0 6 8