Quarterback rotation sparks Ashland to first victory of season
ASHLAND — The Ashland High coaching staff was determined to find more ways to get the ball into the hands of the team's best playmaker — Jake Scarminach.
The solution? Two Jakes are better than one.
Scarminach shared quarterback duties with Jake McCoy and both cashed in big on the surprise move as the Grizzlies grabbed a quick 14-0 lead en route to a 21-14 nonconference win over Churchill Friday at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Scarminach completed all nine of his passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and McCoy completed 8 of 13 for 138 yards and two scores, including what proved to be the game-winner to Scarminach in the second quarter.
Churchill climbed back to within a touchdown on Arthur Davis' 3-yard touchdown run with 8:33 to go, but turned the ball over on its last two possessions.
Fittingly, Scarminach clinched the game for the Grizzlies (1-2) when he intercepted Derek Godfrey's deflected third-and-10 pass at the Ashland 46-yard line with 2:27 left on the clock.
"I just saw an open wide receiver over there so I started to run over there," Scarminach said of the key pick. "(Godfrey) threw a pretty good ball to him, it got tipped up in the air, and I just laid out and made a play. "…That's the best feeling in the world."
Churchill's second-to-last possession also ended in disaster when running back Aaron Ingram was stripped of the ball by Christian Ostmo just as the Lancers' offense appeared to find its rhythm. Scarminach pounced on it in the middle of a pile at the 4:17 mark.
It was that kind of day for the Churchill offense, which found success through the air but not enough to overcome three turnovers — two interceptions and the crucial lost fumble.
"They outplayed us," said Churchill head coach Darrell Mehl, whose team fell to 0-2. "They got some momentum in the first half, did some really nice things. We hurt ourselves quite a bit and I don't think my team plays with passion. I don't know if they know how to at this point."
Ashland entered the game looking for a spark on offense after back-to-back flops to start the season and got one early. It came in a way few could have predicted, however, when McCoy hit Sam Geisslinger with a 6-yard touchdown strike with 3:36 to go in the first quarter to cap a dynamite 60-yard drive. The score also buried a touchdown-less streak that had reached six quarters.
The highlight of the game came on Ashland's next series.
After regaining possession following Churchill's unsuccessful fake punt attempt, the Grizzlies fooled the visitors with a trick play. McCoy took the snap and quickly whipped a backward swing pass to Scarminach, who threw a bomb down the sideline to Lee Dodds. The senior receiver then juked away from a defender and scored to give Ashland a 13-0 lead with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
"It felt pretty good," McCoy said of Ashland's tag-team strategy at quarterback. "We have the receivers to catch the ball, you pretty much just have to put it up there."
Will Scarminach and McCoy continue to trade off at QB?
"I'm hoping so," McCoy said. "It seems like it works."
Churchill got back in the game two possessions later, marching 70 yards on eight plays, including Joey Moore's 3-yard touchdown plunge with 5:49 to go in the first half.
Moore gained 54 yards on three rushing attempts to account for most of Churchill's ground game, while Godfrey completed 22 of 41 passes for 191 yards. Most of Godfrey's passes went to Brandon Determan, who caught 13 for 94 yards.
Ashland answered with its best drive of the day, a 75-yard gem that featured a McCoy bomb to Scarminach, a clutch third-down conversion and, finally, a McCoy-to-Scarminach swing pass that turned into a 21-yard TD. Scarminach caught the harmless-looking toss on second-and-16, cut inside to beat a defender then bolted through arm tackles and into the end zone.
"The pistol (offense) didn't give (Scarminach) enough opportunities to be a playmaker," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "Jake's a big playmaker, whether it's through the air, whether it's running, he's a playmaker."
Scarminach led the Grizzlies with four catches for 83 yards. Dodds had three catches for 74 yards and TJ Murphey had four catches for 45 yards.
The Grizzlies were held to 44 rushing yards on 41 carries a week after they lost two of their top three running backs to injuries.
Dodds led the Grizzlies' defense with 61/2 tackles, while freshman Mason Montgomery had six.
At Walter A. Phillips Field
Churchill 0 7 0 7 —14
Ashland 14 7 0 0 —21
A — Geisslinger 6 pass from McCoy (Warfl kick)
A — Dodds 56 pass from Scarminach (Warfl kick)
C — Moore 3 run (Moore kick)
A — Scarminach 21 pass from McCoy (Warfl kick)
C — Davis 3 run (Moore kick)
First Downs 15 17
Rushes-Yards 18-66 41-44
Passing Yards 212 244
Comp-Att-Int 23-44-2 17-22-0
Total Yards 278 288
Punts 5-37.8 6-37.8
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 3-40 8-50
Churchill — Moore 3-54, Ingram 8-15, Davis 2-4, Bell 1-1, Godfrey 4-(-8).
Ashland — Scarminach 23-22, Volz 8-19, Murphey 1-12, McCoy 9-(-9).
Churchill — Godfrey 22-41-2 191, Savelich 1-3-0 21.
Ashland — McCoy 8-13-0 138, Scarminach 9-9-0 106.
Churchill — Determan 13-94, Molinski 4-49, Ingram 2-35, Moore 2-29, Bennion 1-3, Davis 1-2.
Ashland — Scarminach 4-83, Murphey 4-45, Dodds 3-74, Lime 2-17, Geisslinger 2-13, Heater 2-12.