The question going into Friday night’s Logan-Nitro game was this: Was anyone going to play any defense?
That came a week after Logan surrendered 70 points in a loss at home to Winfield and Nitro gave up 56 to Wayne, but still beat the winless Pioneers.
Nitro was able to play enough defense this time and had another offensive explosion of its own as the Wildcats toppled Logan 57-22 in the “Battle of the Wildcats” on homecoming night at Nitro’s Underwood Field.
Nitro quarterback Trevor Lowe reached the end zone five times on runs of 6, 1, 3, 38 and 1 yards and, with the win, helped his team even its record to 3-3. Nitro reached the psychological .500 barrier and has already matched last season’s win total just six weeks into the regular season. Logan stayed winless and dropped to 0-6.
“It was a big win and our kids played hard,” Nitro coach Zach Davis said. “Give Logan a lot of credit. They played hard and that was a different team in the second half. They came out fighting and made our kids play hard. Hats off to Logan with their effort. I just thought our guys finished well and the run game was there for us tonight. I’ve always told our guys that homecoming games are are no fun unless you win, and we got one tonight.”
Trailing 14-0 after the first quarter, Logan hoped to stay close and go into the locker room down just two scores at halftime. But then it was Nitro’s Virgil Smith who turned in the play of the game, blocking a rugby-style punt from Logan’s Aiden Slack and giving Nitro the ball at the Logan 31.
On the very next play, Lowe dashed in from 31 yards out, giving Nitro a 20-0 lead with 1:27 left until halftime. It ended up being the turning point of the game.
Logan was able to drive to the Nitro 9 following a 64-yard rumble from LHS fullback Troy Cowart. Penalties, however, killed the drive and Tyler Anderson was able to intercept a Jordan Hayes pass on the Logan 5 in the closing seconds.
The blocked punt was huge and gave Nitro an extra push heading into the half.
“He popped through there and that got us going,” Davis said.
Logan cut it to 20-8 with 11:04 in the third quarter with Cowart’s 4-yard TD run and a Hayes to Corey Townsend 2-point conversion pass. Later, Nitro recovered a Logan fumble and, soon after, Cam Foster was in the end zone on a 9-yard TD run. Lowe connected with Anthony Jackson on the 2-point conversion play and Nitro led 28-8 with 7:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Moments later, Logan answered with a Hayes to Townsend 48-yard bomb at the 6:45 mark. Slack passed to Dawson Maynard on the 2-point conversion and Logan found itself down just 28-15.
“We came out a little bit flat early in the second half and we’ve got to get that fixed next week,” Davis said. “But then we got going. We came out and competed and played hard and gave our homecoming crowd something to cheer for.”
Nitro responded with Lowe’s 38-yard touchdown run with 5:24 to go. Lowe then hit Kristian Johnson on the 2-point conversion and Nitro led 36-16 after three quarters. With 11:37 left in the game, Lowe scored his fifth and final touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run as Nitro led 43-16.
Nitro’s defense then scored, as Anderson snared a pass from Hayes that was ruled a lateral and raced to the end zone from 30 yards out to make it 50-16 with 6:26 left in the game.
Logan’s Caleb Tiller added a 1-yard TD run with 3:15 left as the score read 50-22. Then with 2:05 left in the game, Nitro’s D’Audre Boxley scored on a 46-yard run to set the final score at 57-22 in favor of Nitro.
Nitro led 7-0 at the 5:12 mark of the first quarter with Lowe’s 6-yard TD run. He then tacked on a 1-yard TD run with 1:12 to go as Nitro led 14-0.