Several players tackle the ball carrier
Lucas defenders Daniel Hockensmith (30), Alegacy Grose (11) and Logan Toms (2) bring down Crestview’s Wade Bolin on Friday at Scott Bailey Memorial Field. The Cougars were held to single-digit points for the first time since 2019 in a 26-6 loss. Credit: Doug Haidet, staff reporter

OLIVESBURG — No one can say the Lucas football team doesn’t hold a grudge.

One year after the Cubs traveled to Crestview and suffered their largest margin of defeat of the season in a 31-6 blowout, Lucas returned to Scott Bailey Memorial Field on Friday and bounced the Cougars, 26-6.

It was the biggest home loss for Crestview (1-4) since a 38-7 defeat against St. Paul in 2017 and it came a week after the Cougars saw a 24-game home win streak snapped by Monroeville.

“It’s a completely different feeling,” said Lucas returning All-Ohioan Logan Toms, who ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns Friday night. “Last year, we were not happy with how we played here and we weren’t happy with the outcome.”

After starting the season 0-2, Toms and the Cubs have ripped off three consecutive wins — each by at least three touchdowns. The senior has rushed for 559 yards and 10 touchdowns in those three games alone, and his 88-yard score up the right sideline on the first play from scrimmage in the second half Friday proved to be a back-breaker.

“Teams are coming after us and we know that, so our preparation every week is vital to make sure we’re all on the same page when it gets to Friday night,” Crestview coach Steve Haverdill said, “Once we can get both sides playing to their ability and put two halves together, it’s going to be something special. It’s just that we’ve got to get there.”

Despite the final score, the Cougars nearly carried a lead into halftime. Had they been able to convert a fourth-and-three play from the Lucas 9 yard line, the hosts would have had at least a 12-7 advantage.

But Crestview sophomore quarterback Liam Kuhn had his potential touchdown pass broken up in the end zone by Lucas’ Aidan Culler with less than a minute to play before half, and Toms’ big run to open the third quarter set the stage for the rest of the night.

That one play accounted for more yards than the Cubs had in the entire first half (79).

“I feel like (the 88-yard touchdown) gave us some energy and some confidence going into the rest of the game,” Toms said.

The Cubs went ahead 20-6 on their next drive when Toms punched it in from 8 yards out, and the Cougar offense stalled again after driving to the Lucas 25 after that.

Linebackers Daniel Hockensmith and Rayden Caudill both had key stops on that drive for the Cubs when it seemed like Crestview was in a must-score situation.

“We’ve just got to stay focused and we’ve got to be able to punch it in against good teams,” Haverdill said. “Tonight, we didn’t get those (scores).”

Any chance the Cougars had from there was plowed under when Lucas used a 14-play, 72-yard drive to chew up more than eight minutes of clock in the fourth quarter. That drive — and the scoring for the night — was capped by a 22-yard touchdown run from Hockensmith with 3:35 to play.

“We knew they had the size advantage up front, so we had to have a good night up front,” said Cubs coach Scott Spitler, who now has 97 wins in his 15th season leading Lucas. “They’re a good football team, they’re well-coached. They didn’t lay down.

“In the first two weeks of the season, we didn’t have any bullets left in the gun, we shot ourselves in the foot so much … Against good football teams, you can’t do that, and we lost two close football games to two good teams.”

Sticking with their strength, the Cubs finished with 304 yards on the ground Friday despite some key stops by Crestview defenders Gavin Barker, Mason Cline and Grayson Burgess. The Cubs hadn’t attempted a pass in their previous two wins, and when they went to the air two times Friday, they had an overthrow and a loss of 4 yards after a catch on a tipped pass.

Defensively, Lucas forced turnovers on Crestview’s first and last drives of the night. Caudill recovered a fumble that led to Toms’ first touchdown run from 4 yards out, and Kuhn (38 yards passing) was intercepted by William Whitesel with 1:41 left in the fourth.

Crestview’s bright spot was sophomore running back Ayden Reymer. His 32-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter was the only score of the night for the Cougars, cutting the deficit to 7-6 at the time.

Reymer entered Friday averaging a little less than 90 yards per game on the ground, but he went for 157 yards on 24 carries against the Cubs.

Haverdill said he is one of 11 sophomores getting significant playing time for the Cougars, who before last week had never lost back-to-back games under the fifth-year head coach.

“When you play a team like this, you’re going to see if you’re a physical football team, and I thought our kids held up and showed that we can be physical,” Haverdill said. “Especially the young guys that we have out there.”

The Cougars, who are in the midst of a stretch of four home games in five weeks, travel to South Central (1-4, 0-1 FC) next Friday. Haverdill believes his team can still contend for a fourth consecutive FC title if it can grow up quickly.

Lucas, meanwhile, continues a stretch of three straight weeks on the road when it faces another FC foe at Monroeville (4-1, 2-0 FC).

Doug Haidet is a 17-year resident of Ashland. He wrote sports in some capacity for the Ashland Times-Gazette from 2006 to 2018. He lives with his wife, Christy, and son, Murphy.