BIDWELL, Ohio — The streak reaches three … with an accomplishment 18 years in the making.
The Gallia Academy football team posted back-to-back shutouts to start a season for the first time since 2001 while also claiming its third consecutive Ohio Valley Bank Community Bowl victory on Friday night with a 38-0 decision over host River Valley in a Week 2 non-conference matchup of Gallia County programs.
The visiting Blue Devils (2-0) needed just 15 offensive snaps to build a 21-0 first quarter lead, which helped set the tone on the program’s third consecutive regular season shutout.
The Raiders (0-2), however, made some adjustments and showed some signs of life after limiting the Blue and White to just three points over the next two quarters for a 24-0 contest headed into the finale.
Gallia Academy strung together a scoring drive with 10:37 left in regulation, which forced a running clock the rest of the way with a 31-0 advantage. The Blue Devils tacked on one more scoring drive with 3:06 left to wrap up the 38-point triumph.
Gallia Academy — following a 24-0 victory at Meigs in the season opener — has now won nine consecutive decisions in the regular season. GAHS also picked up its second straight shutout win over the Silver and Black while improving to 3-2 overall in the five-year OVB Community Bowl matchup.
The Blue Devils — who also improved to 12-3 all-time against the Raiders — used a balanced approach that resulted in a 332-248 edge in total yards while also finishing plus-2 in turnover differential.
Despite a little bit of an offensive lull in the middle frames, Gallia Academy coach Alex Penrod — who was a senior at Logan the last time the Blue Devils started the season with consecutive shutouts — was pleased with overall effort of his troops.
Penrod also noted that there is still room for improvement, particularly with a huge home opener looming in six days.
“I’m just proud of our men for continuing to buy in and believe in this program. It’s good to start the season 2-0 and get another OVB Community Bowl trophy. It’s going to stay in our trophy case for years to come and it’s something that we can hang our hats on,” Penrod said. “I want to give a shout out to Coach Peck and his kids, because the scoreboard doesn’t show how well River Valley played. They gave us a different look up front in the second quarter and it gave us some fits, but we were able to adjust on the fly. It wasn’t a pretty win for us offensively, but we were able to get the job done.
“We still have a ways to go from where we want to be, but we do have two shutouts to start the season … and I don’t know the last time a Gallia Academy team could make that statement. It was a complete team win in all three phases, and we’ll definitely need four quarters of that next week when we face a program like Point Pleasant. It’s their first game and our home opener, and this is what rivalry games are all about. It’s going to be a big one.”
RVHS coach Jason Peck acknowledged that Gallia Academy’s speed definitely presented problems, but he also felt that his squad showed signs of growth as the night progressed.
His wish, however, is to see his troops put four quarters together in a collective fashion. When that happens, the second-year mentor believes this team will turn a significant corner.
“Honestly, we haven’t seen a lot of the spread offense in preseason or at Coal Grove last week. We’ve kind of dealt with the battle in the box, so to speak. It’s just so hard to simulate that kind of speed … and it showed early on,” Peck said. “Once we got settled in, I felt like we started to compete and did some positive things. We didn’t quit, and I give the kids credit for that because we could have laid down after falling behind 21 points in the first quarter.
“We have some positives that we can take away from this and grow from, be we need to learn how to finish as a team. Once we get past that point, we can take that next step forward … but we have to take that step together.”
Gallia Academy received the opening kickoff and marched 42 yards in nine plays, with Ben Cox capping the drive after hauling in 4-yard touchdown pass from Noah Vanco for a 7-0 cushion at the 7:33 mark.
The Raiders were forced to punt on their ensuing drive, and the guests followed with a 3-play drive that covered 45 yards. James Armstrong capped the drive with a 4-yard run at the 3:18 mark for a 14-0 advantage.
Michael Beasy picked off a pass on the ensuing River Valley drive, then the guests covered 10 yards in three plays as Daneuvyn Woodson hauled in a 4-yard TD pass from Vanco for a 21-0 edge with 33.2 seconds left in the opening frame.
The next three possessions resulted in a loss of downs, then Cole Young recovered a GAHS fumble before Trent Johnson got the ball back for the guests on an interception with 39.9 seconds left in the half.
Starting at their own 48, the Blue Devils managed to move the ball down to the RVHS 29 with one second remaining until halftime.
Andrew Toler successfully converted a 46-yard field goal as the first half clock expired, allowing the Blue and White to take a 24-0 cushion into the break.
Gallia Academy claimed a 212-157 edge in total yards and were also plus-1 in turnover differential in the first half. The guests also had a 9-4 advantage in first downs and held a slim 141-137 lead in rushing yards.
The second half started with a trio of drives that ultimately resulted in a loss of downs, but the Blue Devils started a 9-play, 61-yard drive that led to points with 3:02 remaining in the third period.
Armstrong received a pitch and went around the right side on fourth-and-three, covering 14 yards before ending up in the end zone with 10:37 remaining. The score made it a 31-0 contest … and started a continuous clock with a 30-point advantage.
Woodson recovered a fumble at the RVHS 15 on the Raiders’ ensuing drive, and the hosts needed five plays to cover the distance as Michael Beasy plunged in from two yards out with 3:06 left in regulation.
Toler converted the last of his five successful point-after tries to wrap up the 38-0 outcome.
The Blue Devils claimed a 14-8 advantage in first downs and posted a substantial 113-20 edge in passing yards. The Raiders, on the other hand, outgained the guests on the ground by a 228-219 margin.
Both teams committed six penalties apiece, with GAHS accumulating 55 yards while the Raiders had 60 yards marked off.
Armstrong led Gallia Academy with 174 rushing yards on 19 attempts, followed by Woodson with 25 yards on three carries.
Vanco completed 10-of-15 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. The guests had seven different receivers haul in at least one pass, with Beasy leading the way with three catches for 33 yards.
Young led the hosts with 13 rushes for 96 yards and Ryan Jones followed with 51 yards on three attempts.
Jordan Burns completed 2-of-7 passes for 20 yards, which also included a pair of interceptions. Jones and Cameron Hess each caught one pass for 13 and seven yards, respectively.
Gallia Academy returns to action Friday when it opens its home schedule with a 7 p.m. kickoff against Point Pleasant.
The Raiders travel to Portsmouth for a non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.