CIRCLEVILLE — Miami Trace opened the night with a couple of big plays on the way to a 42-20 opening week win over Circleville.
“This is one of the first weeks we had everybody together. Our guys came out ready to play and we felt we could out-man them and we just wanted to get out and play and execute,” Miami Trace coach Jerry Williams said. “Offenses typically start slow in the season but we wanted to get out and get after it today and I think we did and we had success early.”
It took only one play for the Panthers to strike as Joshua Gilmore got behind the Circleville defense and caught a pass from Dalton Mayer that turned into a 60-yard touchdown 18 seconds into the game.
“We saw that their safety was pretty aggressive coming down and we wanted to show a big play action from the get-go. We put our fastest guy out there and put it up and it worked,” Williams said. “It’s something we saw in scouting and watching film and we had a good play out of it.”
After forcing the Tigers to punt after three plays, it was Jayden LeBeau who took the hand-off on first down and raced 45 yards for a score and 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Circleville bounced back with a 76-yard drive to make it 14-6.
MT came back with a 10-play drive that ended with another Mayer to Gilmore pass – this time covering 23 yards.
The Panthers got a 41-yard scoring run from LeBeau two minutes into the second quarter to push the lead to 28-6.
After Circleville misplayed the kickoff, MT started on the Tigers’ 2-yard line where Mayer ran it in for a score.
Another Circleville miscue three plays later — this time a fumble recovered by Kenny Wolffe — gave the Panthers the ball at the Circleville 17. LeBeau got all 17 yards on first down for his third score of the night and a 42-6 Panther lead.
LeBeau had 126 yards rushing in the first half.
Most of the second half was played under a running clock because of MT’s lead being 30 points or more which limited the number of plays, but two Panther turnovers gave the Tigers some life, with the second leading to a touchdown.
“I’m not happy with the second half whatsoever. I don’t think we came out mentally focused,” Williams said. “We’re still a very young team and we have yet to learn how to win and how to keep our foot on the accelerator. We have to get these young guys to learn the importance of there only being 10 weeks out there and that you’ve got to play play-by-play.”
The Panthers ended the night with 422 yards of offense while holding their opponent to 288. LeBeau was the leading rusher with 129 yards while Cayden Griggs added 83 in the second half.
Gilmore had 96 yards on his three catches.
Williams will be working to see his team make some improvements next week as they prepare to travel to Wilmington.
“What we’ve got to do is finish. Our execution is certainly there but we have to be able to adapt to their changes and what they did at halftime,” he said. “We didn’t do a very good job at adapting and we’ve got to transition into the second half and that’s what we’ve got to focus on this week.”
Elsewhere Friday night, in games involving Frontier Athletic Conference teams, Washington shut out Blanchester, 26-0; Teays Valley blanked Chillicothe, 14-0; Hillsboro edged Western Brown, 16-14 and Adena upended McClain, 41-14.
Jackson will host Wellston Saturday night.