A temperamental light pole caused a pair of outages at the Shawnee Braves’ field on Friday night.
Likewise, it took the Braves a little while to power up.
Shawnee overcame a lethargic first half that left them trailing by two touchdowns with a second-half effort that left Braves’ fans beaming. Shawnee, using a ground game that was non-existent early, ran off with a 28-14 win over Kenton Ridge in a battle of Central Buckeye Conference unbeatens.
Shawnee (6-0, 1-0 Kenton Division) entered the game averaging 419 yards rushing. They managed just seven in the first half on 11 carries. But in the second, the Braves worked the sidelines with quick passes that soon opened up the running game.
Behind quarterback Saalih Muhammad, who rushed for touchdowns of 18, 69 and four yards, the Braves finished with 280 yards rushing and 402 overall. Muhammad finished with 128 yards on 16 carries. He threw for 122 more on 13-of-16 passing.
As for that power failure, he’s putting any controversy to rest. The Braves, who trailed 7-0 at the time and had gone 3-and-out on their first possession, didn’t take a page out of the San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl playbook and pull the plug.
“No, if we would have knocked out the power we would have lost because the 49ers lost,” Muhammad said, grinning. “It took a little more mental preparation than usual (to deal with the delay). Just had to fight through that, too. It could lead to brain farts, turnovers and everything else. It could hurt you or help you. It helped us.”
The delay, blamed on a motorist backing into a pole while trying to find a parking spot, lasted 21 minutes and came with 5:34 left in the first quarter. Another power failure, reportedly for the same reason, happened about an hour before kickoff.
Kenton Ridge (5-1, 0-1 Kenton) controlled the first half with a swarming defense and a few big plays of its own. The Cougars led 7-0 11 plays into the game on Mitchell Schneider’s 50-yard blast up the middle. He made it 14-0 with 2:14 before the half on an 8-yard score.
Still, the Cougars left some points on the field. They failed twice to convert on fourth down from Shawnee’s 16- and 32-yard lines in the first half.
“Physically we couldn’t do anything. They were just whipping us,” Shawnee coach Rick Meeks said. “We talked to (the team) at halftime and told them there are no magic pills or elixir I can give you to make this right. To our kids credit they came out in the second half and made it happen.”
Schneider led KR with 85 yards rushing on 14 carries to contribute to the Cougars’ 200 yards in total offense.