YORKVILLE - Evolution in the Buckeye 8 has spurned some new rivalries and extended some old ones. Matching Martins Ferry and Buckeye Local has always been a ticket seller's dream. Big crowds, exciting football and most always an unpredictable finish.
Friday night at Memorial Stadium it was an unpredictable start that resulted in an unexpected finish.
Three pass interceptions by the Purple Riders' Damon Outward, an offense that churned out 274 yards on the ground and a defense that limited a usually potent Panthers offense to just 64 totals yards led the way to a 40-0 Martins Ferry victory that spoiled Buckeye Local's Homecoming activities.
With a victory, Coach Dave Bruney's Riders boosted their record to 5-1 and prepped for a tough match up with Indian Creek. The victory also marked the 12th in 19 games opposite the Panthers.
Coach Phil Pest's Panthers, playing without the services of two-way standouts Austin Marshall and Devon Pyciak, saw their record dip to an even 3-3. Buckeye is back in action on Friday traveling to Union Local.
''We know what it is like to play short-handed like that,'' Bruney said. ''We have a couple guys hurt, but I think we have a little more depth that Buckeye does. They play hard though.''
Ten different players ran the ball for the Riders and Bruney had five different receivers hail in passes.
Starting on their own 27, the Riders put together a 73-yard, 11-play drive that featured five carries by quarterback Eric Flowers that covered 29 yards and set up Brandon Laughman's 17-yard TD off the right side for the score with 3:32 on the board. The pass for the PAT was off the mark as the Riders led 6-0.
A fumble on the ensuing kickoff that was collected by the Riders' Kyle Rine set up the next Martins Ferry score. A 25-yard Flowers to Sean McGee pushed the ball to the Buckeye 10. Laughman then swept the left side to score from the 10 with 2:23 on the first-quarter clock. Flowers up the middle to tack on the PAT for a 14-0 lead.
Outward picked off one Buckeye Local pass late in the first and added another with 4:20 on the clock in the second to set up the third Riders score. Starting from the Panthers 42, the Riders followed the running of Flowers, Marcus Sutton and Laughman to inch the ball to the 2 on six plays. Bruce Burger then plowed off left tackle to added another Ferry six-pointer with 1:12 on the first half clock. Flowers' pass to sure-handed Cody Schau added the PAT and pushed the margin to 22-0 at the intermission.
Ferry wasted little time adding another score in the third as Flowers connected with Schau for 29 yards on the half's second play, then two plays later the pair hooked up again for 28 yards and a score with 10:15 on the board. The PAT attempt failed.
''We got beat in every phase of the game,'' Buckeye Local coach Phil Pest said after the loss. ''With those two guys out, we had four positions to fill and that's not easy. We played flat. We couldn't get started and we couldn't stop them.''