Football helmet with an A on the side

DELAWARE – After opening the season with a pair of one-possession wins, the Ashland High School football team hit the road Friday for the first time at Buckeye Valley and found out what it’s like to lose a tight game.

Looking for just their second 3-0 start since 2015, the Arrows ran out of time against the Barons in a 27-23 loss.

Despite a late fourth-quarter interception, sophomore quarterback Nathan Bernhard led Ashland (2-1) inside the Buckeye Valley red zone as time dwindled. The Arrows converted a first-down pass near the Barons 10-yard line, but couldn’t spike the ball in time to stop the clock before the final whistle.

Buckeye Valley (1-2) had given up 115 points in its first two games of the season – both on the road – but was able to hold Ashland to just three points in the second half Friday. It helped avenge last year’s first-ever meeting between the teams, when the Arrows tallied a 35-16 victory.

It was the third consecutive week Ashland has been unable to score a touchdown in a half. The Arrows were shut out in the second half against River Valley in Week 1, then were scoreless in the first half of Week 2 against Marion Harding.

Bernhard finished his night a solid 24-of-34 passing for 198 yards and first-half touchdowns to both Michael Franz (9 catches, 92 yards) and Tyler Sauder. The quarterback also hit Gabe Baith 10 times for 54 yards and ran for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Ashland running back Cayden Spotts had another hard-nosed night on the ground, totaling 150 yards on 17 carries – including a pair of totes over 30 yards.

But in an evenly matched contest (Ashland led in offensive yards, 380-362), Buckeye Valley got its first win on the back of quarterback Nathan Huss. He finished 10-of-21 passing for 207 yards and two touchdowns to Garrett Slater (3 catches, 95 yards), while also running the ball 11 times for 105 yards and the Barons’ other two scores.

The Arrows allowed just one play to go for more than 20 yards in Week 2, but on Friday, Buckeye Valley gashed them for chunk gains of 80, 57, 28, 28 and 21 yards at different times throughout the night.

Ashland is back on the road next week, continuing a stretch of three consecutive games away from home when they visit New Philadelphia (2-1), a team expected to be in the mix for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title.