UTICA - So much for avenging a loss in their meeting.
Scoring on the opening kickoff and recovering a fumble in the endzone in the first three minutes of the game, gave the Utica Redskins the start they needed, registering a surprisingly easy 45-20 over the visiting Buckeye Local Panthers in the season opener Friday night.
It was the head coaching debut for veteran Phil Pest. The first-year Panther head coach replaced Anthony Barsch after last season, but is no stranger to the gridiron. Pest has over 30 years of coaching experience, Friday night was the first time he opened a season as the head coach.
Buckeye returns to action on Sept. 2 with its home opener at Memorial Stadium, entertaining Pittsburgh Westinghouse.
Winning in their season opener, coach Randy Felumlee's club will return to action on Friday at Granville.
Utica wasted little time avenging last season's 33-16 loss at Buckeye Local. Senior Briar Mueller took the opening kickoff at his 19, found a seam in the middle and rambled untouched on an 81-yard scoring run. Greg Kiger booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead with just 12 seconds off the clock.
Utica 45, Buckeye Local 20
Buckeye Local 0 0 6 14 - 20
Utica19 13 6 7 - 45
U: Mueller 81 kickoff return (Kiger kick)
U: Vickers recovered fumble in endzone (pass failed)
U: Hays 19 run (run failed)
U: Baldwin 1 run (pass failed)
U: Hay 5 run (Kiger kick)
B: Marshall 36 run (run failed)
U: Vickers 2 run (run failed)
U: Vickers 52 run (Kiger kick)
B: Stock 24 pass from Kirk (Flaherty run)
B: Tustin 13 run (run failed)
RUSHING: Buckeye Local 44-171 (Marshall, 7-64-1, Hopkins, 6-12, Flaherty, 9-27; Stock, 5-14, Agnew, 1-11, Mosser, 3-7, Tustin, 5-32-1, Kirk, 3-5, Beall, 4-20). Utica 44-308 (Edmister, 5-15, Baldwin, 15-66-1; Vickers, 6-84-1; Hays, 5-66-2; Taylor, 3-1; Piazza, 2-4; Moran, 1-45; Cooper, 1; Trombley, 7-36).
PASSING: Buckeye Local 4-11-123-1-1 (Hopkins, 2-6-67; Kirk, 2-4-56-1-1; Miller, 0-2-0-1-1). Utica 6-7-86-0-0 (all by Vickers).
RECEIVING: Buckeye Local: Duncan, 2-86; Stock, 2-37-1. Utica: Hays, 2-51; Davidson, 106; Mueller, 1-37; Baldwin, 1-(-7); Sparks, 1-(-2)
FIRST DOWNS: Buckeye 14 Utica 18
PENALTIES: Buckeye, 3-22 Utica, 8-60
FUMBLES: Buckeye, 1-, Utica, 1-1
Two minutes later, the Redskins took advantage of a Panther miscue as Trent Vickers pounced on a Buckeye fumble, the result of a snap that sailed over the head of the Panther punter. Vickers recovery in the endzone boosted the hosts lead to 13-0 with 9:45 on the clock.
With 6:07 on the first-quarter clock, Mitchell Peck landed on another Panther fumble, this time at the Utica 27. The Redskins proceeded to put together another scoring drive covering 73 yards on eight plays. A 45-yard pass from Vickers to Ben Hays set the stage for Hays' 19-yard run for the score with 2:07 on the clock.
In the second frame, the hosts stopped a long drive by the Panthers at the six, then proceeded to put together another long drive that featured 14 plays all on the ground capped off by a one-yard scoring plunge by Travis Baldwin with 5:07 on the clock.
Utica closed the half with third fifth score of the night on a five-yard Hays run with 0:43 on the clock. Kiger booted the PAT for a 32-0 lead.
In the second half, Buckeye tried to bounced back by scoring four plays into the third frame. Featuring a 13-yard Chase Hopkins to Andy Stock pass, the Panthers would score with 10:18 on the clock on a superb 36-yard run by speedster Austin Marshal to close the gap to 32-6.
With 3:13 on the board, the Redskins would add another score on a two-yard run by Vickers. The run for a PAT was stopped.
Vickers would strike again with a dazzling 52-yard scamper with 11:47 on the fourth quarter clock. Kiger booted the PAT for a 45-6 lead.
Buckeye would score twice in the final session as Stock hauled in a 24-yard pass from Nathan Kirk with 10:23 left. With 1:56 remaining, Shawn Tustin ran in the final tally from the 13.
"That kickoff return and the way they started had us on our eels early," Pest said. "We had been caught in the backfield for losses of seven and eight yards, but we missed a lot of tackles and they seemed to have the quickness to turn it into big gains.
"I was disappointed with our tackling tonight. We need the seniors to step up and lead these kids.
"We need these kids to improve on their intensity and give us more effort. There were times we could have had them third and long and instead they picked up big yardage.
"I was impressed with the effort from of the younger kids. That was bright spot for us."