BELOIT – Ohio (WKBN) – The Alliance Aviators used three big plays to come from behind and knock off the West Branch Warriors 34-24 Saturday in a game that was postponed Friday night. The Aviators scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter after trailing 24-14 at halftime.
The Warriors had built a ten point lead at the intermission on three Rob Lozier touchdown runs and looked to be in control of the game at the break. The Warriors held a 283 to 159 yard advantage at halftime.
“We felt pretty good even though they hit a play here or there that put them in position to make plays, but we felt pretty good at halftime we were up by ten,” Warriors coach DJ Dota said. “It’s frustrating for coaches, it’s frustrating for the kids. We have to come back to work on Monday.”
The Aviators reversed all the momentum in the game right from the opening kickoff of the second half as senior receiver DJ Hancock raced 85-yards right through the center of the Warriors team to cut the deficit to 24-20. Then on the Warriors next possession, senior defensive back Devontay Nickson picked off a TJ Deshields pass along the right sideline and raced 45-yards to pay dirt as the Aviators went ahead for the first time in the contest 26-20 with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.
“That was something we harped on all week, there big play ability by two or three of their players,” Dota remarked. “I think we did a pretty good job on two of them. When we came out in the third quarter I thought we were ok.”
The Aviators would add another score less than five minutes later when quarterback Howard Frazier tossed the ball out into the left flat for Hancock who scampered down the left sideline 77-yards and a 34-24 lead. That score occurred with 4:37 remaining in the quarter.
“We played about six minutes of bad football on the clock, and we just couldn’t recover from that,” Dota admitted. “We always talk about who plays the best from the time the game starts to the end. You have to play all four quarters.”
The loss overshadowed a great performance by the Warriors senior running back Rob Lozier as he rushed for 193 yards on 31 carries and scored all three of the Warriors touchdowns. He had a first quarter run of 3 yards, and two second quarter scores of 5 yards and 10 yards.
“He has really stepped up the last two or three weeks, playing with a toughness and things we have asked him he has responded to,” Dota explained. “He needs to continue that. He is proud of what he has done, but a lot of our guys have stepped up and have played some big roles for us.”
“They had to deal with it too,” Dota responded if it had any effect on his team with playing Saturday morning. “It was out of our control.”
With the loss the Warriors drop to 3-3 on the season, 1-1 in NBC play. They will travel to Louisville next Friday night. The Aviators improve to 3-3 and 2-0 in the league. They will host Carrollton on Friday.