Survey says … Intermediate passing game and long runs.
WWHO Channel 53 in Columbus has a smattering of game shows in its repertoire, so it was only right that neighborhood rivals Jonathan Alder and West Jefferson high schools squared off in their own version of ‘Family Feud’ during a special broadcast of Thursday Night Lights.
Game show host Steve Harvey would have two distinctive answers if he surveyed the fans about what offensive scheme was more effective.
The visiting Roughriders used the running game to its advantage as the home Pioneers feasted on its precision passing in this soon-to-be-ended cross-county rivalry.
As the first half ended, the Pioneers air assault of 161 yards topped West Jeff’s 201 ground gains by a score of 22-12.
Jonathan Alder got on the board first as quarterback Preston Eisnaugle connected on teen-numbered passes to Andrew Koenig and Trey Pugh. Ironically it was on the ground via a Eisnaugle sneak that put the home squad ahead 7-0.
While Eisnaugle used his arm, West Jefferson counterpart Conor Powell used his legs. Following a 12-yard run by DJ Braithwaite, Powell found a running lane at midfield and outran all pursuers to paydirt. The two-point attempt failed, Alder held the slim lead as the first quarter ended.
The Eisnaugle-Koenig combo hit its stride on the next Pioneer drive, connecting four times in a series that eventually ended with the Alder signal-caller hitting Austin Fooce from 17 yards away.
The Roughriders version of the two-step featured Powell and Braithwaite the next time West Jeff got the ball with the key plays featuring the latter breaking a grinding 19-yard run before the former again found the end zone, this time from 40 yards away.
Uncharacteristic of their previous drives, Alder tried to take a page out of their opponent’s playbook as it ran its first three plays on the ground.
But Alder went back to the air with Eisnaugle linking with Pugh on a pair of plays, the second a pretty leaping catch at the two-yard line. The Pioneers quarterback took it across two plays later. A creative Colton Swick to Hunter Maynard two-point pass gave the home team a double digit advantage.
West Jefferson had a chance to pull closer near the halftime break as Braithwaite barreled through the Alder defense on a number of plays en route to the end zone. But the Pioneers defense stiffened in crunch time and left the Roughriders just short as time expired in the first half.
As halftime was winding down, officials spotted lightning in the distance and the second half was delayed for 90-plus minutes.
The game was still in a weather delay when The Madison Press went to press.
Chris Miles can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618, or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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