Eden Valley-Watkins 24, Barnesville 6
Eden Valley-Watkins shuts down Barnesville’s powerful offense
by Malik Mitchell
Barnesville scored 596 points on the season heading into the game Friday, but the Eden Valley-Watkins defense stood tall, and Nolan Geislinger and Wyatt Moehrle connected on three touchdowns as the Eagles soared to a 24- 6 victory to win the Class AA title.
It was Eden Valley-Watkins’ first title since 2005.
The Eagles came out showing a sound offense that kept the Trojans on their toes. Geislinger was too speedy to catch taking off on multiple occasions for big gains on the first drive. He capped off the drive by throwing a fade to a well-covered Moehrle for a 7-yard touchdown.
But Barnesville answered. In the second quarter, Barnesville’s run game started to pick up after junior Gannon Bolgrean rushed left for a 16-yard gain. However, a drive-changing fumble would put them in a 3rd & 18 situation and diminish the drive. The Eagles offense wasn’t faring much better and had trouble getting past midfield. Slowly but surely, Barnsville’s run game started to pick up. But they were set back after the Eagles picked up an interception by Asher O’Brien with 1:16 left in the half. Parker Schultz picked up a 28-yard gain on a reverse play to land them on Barnsville’s 38-yard line with 38 seconds left, but failed to score as both defenses became the main factor in the first half with the Eagles heading to the locker room clinging to a 6-0 lead.
Coming out of the half, Barnesville’s mysterious run formation caused a lot of misdirection that led to Gannon Bolgrean rushing up the middle for 25 yards, landing the Trojans on the Eagles 38. Bolgrean later punched one in from eight yards out to tie the game 6-6 after a missed two-point conversion.
The Eagles responded with Geislinger keeping the ball on an option and busting along the left sideline for 36 yards to the end zone to put Eden Valley-Watkins back up 12-6.
The Eagles then took advantage of a big turnover. After a 20-yard gain, Bolgrean fumbled a pitch that was recovered by senior Sonnie DeHeer which eventually led to a 55-yard touchdown pass from Geislinger to Moehrle to give the Eagles an 18-6 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Barnesville went to the air, but ran into a solid Eagles secondary, resulting in two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Seniors Landon Neiman and Nolan Haag both picked off passes to squelch Trojan drives. For Haag it was his second of the game and the team’s third.
Barnesville head coach Bryan Strand said, “We had costly turnovers, we picked the wrong game to start turning the ball over.”
Still a two-score game, the Eagles faced 4th & 6, yet scored again off a passing touchdown from Geislinger to Moehrle on a go-route, scoring his third touchdown of the day for the Eagles to go up 24-6.
Strand said it was tough to defend Moehrle because of his size.
“They had a 6’4 receiver, we have a 5’10 d-back, he was catching passes every time it was thrown,” said Strand.
With under two minutes left, Haag got his third interception to tie the prep bowl record. It had been done seven previous times with the last dating back to 2014.
The interception led to victory formation followed by a joyful backflip from Geislinger as time ran out.
“I want to thank our coaching staff, they were unbelievable during our career,” said Geislinger, who capped off his outstanding football career with a state title.
Geislinger finished with an efficient 7-for-13 passing for 111 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown. Moehrle caught five passes for 92 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles finished with 278 yards of total offense to Barnesville’s 245.
Bolgrean finished with an impressive 150 yards rushing for the Trojans, but could only get into the end zone once. Bredman completed eight passes for 68 yards.
The Eagles’ win also broke Barnesville’s 26-game win streak.
Eden Valley Watkins (13-0) 6 0 12 6 – 24
Barnesville (13-1) 0 0 6 0 – 6