SULLIVAN TWP. — It’s good to be Andrew Vaughn.
The Black River running back continued his attack on the school record book Friday night, making plays on both sides of the ball to help the Pirates to a 37-21 Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory over Wellington.
Vaughn even took home Homecoming King honors before the game, but, more importantly, he and his teammates never forgot a loss to the Dukes last season.
“This was a big one because they’ve got us the last two years and they ruined our season last year,” said Vaughn, referring to Black River’s 7-0 loss that factored in just missing the playoffs. “(Pirates) Coach (Al Young) told us all week that they’ve gotten us two years in a row. He beat it on our heads all day.
“We evened conditioned three times every day this week except Thursday. We conditioned more than we practiced this week.”
The Pirates (4-2, 3-0) continued to run fresh guys at an undermanned Dukes squad that is still looking for its first win.
Vaughn helped cement the win with his feet — two rushing touchdowns — and hands, as he put the game on ice with the longest interception return for a touchdown in school history (102 yards). His 212 yards on 30 carries was way more than the 72 he needed for 5,000 in his career.
Vaughn had touchdown runs of 28 and 42 yards to give Black River a 31-14 edge before Wellington (0-6, 0-3) cut the deficit when quarterback Joseph Holliday (9-for-22, 180 yards, TD) found Matthew Bullock from 64 yards away.
But Vaughn and the defense grabbed control, something that was lacking last week in a 64-60 win over Clearview.
“We challenged our defense there at halftime, and they responded well,” Young said. “You know, Wellington is 0-6 but they are very good and deceiving, so we were fortunate to get a win.”
The Dukes strung together an 11-play drive that chewed up more than 6 minutes of the fourth. It included a pair of slant passes from Holliday to Collin Kmitt (4 catches, 62 yards) before a third-and-8 from the Pirates 10.
Holliday’s pass attempt deflected off the fingertips of Kmitt in the end zone, leaving a jump ball that Vaughn grabbed and took to the house. The return matches the county mark held by Cloverleaf’s Jason Myers, who accomplished the feat against Midpark on Oct. 9, 1992.
“We’ve been struggling all year, and it’s just little things like missed tackles and communication errors, but our defense stepped it up,” Vaughn said. “We gave up one touchdown in the second half, but out defense came through. That’s a defensive win tonight, and we played with a lot of enthusiasm that we’ve been missing.”
On the next drive, Black River forced five incomplete passes — one coming on a deflection from Brock Waltz and the final miscue via senior Josh Anderson’s pressure. Brett Nagy also had a fumble recovery in the second quarter that led to a 79-yard TD run by David Bell (18 carries, 175 yards, 2 TDs) three players later.
Vaughn and Bell were two cogs to a three-headed running machine that also included sophomore Colin Filak (16 carries, 73 yards).
“We’re fortunate that we have some really good running backs, but it all starts up front,” Young said. “We have a really good offensive line, and on a night like tonight, we’re fortunate to have all of those combinations.”
Bell’s other touchdown came in a wild first quarter that saw both teams put up more than 100 rushing yards. The two Wellington scores came on a Chase Bealer 64-yard scamper just 21 seconds in and the other was an 11-yard run from Robert Nester that responded to Bell’s first score.
“For the most part, I thought we took care of our opportunities,” Young said. “I was proud of the defense in the second half, and the offense slugged away again. Anytime you put up 37 points on Wellington, you’re doing pretty good.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River 37, Wellington 21
WELLINGTON 14 0 7 0 — 21
BLACK RIVER 15 8 8 6 — 37
W — Chase Bealer 64 run (Evan Marsh kick), 11:39.
BR — David Bell 20 run (Andrew Vaughn run), 8:47.
W — Robert Nester 11 run (Marsh kick), 7:12.
BR — Bell 79 run (Jarrett Foster kick), 0:00.
BR — Vaughn 28 run (Bell run), 7:30.
BR — Vaughn 42 run (Vaughn run), 9:27.
W — Matthew Bullock 64 pass from Joseph Holliday (Marsh kick), 8:18.
BR — Vaughn 102 interception return (kick failed), 6:43.