Lightning, Shawnee Can't Stop Hinkle In Win

St. Marys' running back Aiden Hinkle pulls a Shawnee defender with him as he rushes closer to the goalline in a Western Buckeye League game on Friday.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Only the lightning could stop freshman Aiden Hinkle and that only lasted 30 minutes. 

Making his varsity debut, the 6-foot, 190-pound fullback powered St. Marys with three rushing touchdowns, ran for 171 yards and dragged a number of Shawnee football players en route to the best game of the season for the Roughriders in a 28-9 Western Buckeye League victory on Friday at Grand Lake Health System Field.

A back that saw varsity action in the Roughriders’ two scrimmages and a force on the junior varsity team, St. Marys coach Doug Frye said he had seen all he needed to see to make the decision of having Hinkle start on Friday.

“I have been trying to hold off starting Aiden — but we really have three fullbacks, not taking away from the other two — but I was in my office this morning watching some film and I came into the team meal tonight when I told Coach Koby [Frye] that we are going to start Hinkle tonight,” Frye said. “I think the young man has some ability, obviously, and is blessed, but I just like how hard he ran tonight.”

And the freshman was told right before the first snap on offense that he was going to play.

“He gave us a little more presence in the middle,” Frye added. 

Hinkle got the Riders (3-2, 2-2 WBL) on the board on their opening drive with a 1-yard drive to conclude a 17-play, 85-yard drive. He later extended a one-point lead on his second TD of the night  — another 1-yard dive to go up 14-6 and the freshman put a dagger in the hearts of Shawnee fans with his third and final TD run to make it 28-9 with 2:52 remaining in the game.

The win was an important one for the Roughriders, who garnered major computer points with the win against Shawnee (3-2, 2-2) — who was placed 10th in the Division III, Region 12 computer rankings — and are now in the top eight heading into another key matchup next week against Kenton.

“We are progressing, we knew there was some newness on the team, the schedule was challenging early in the year and we have had a number of challenges with the injuries we have had,” Frye said. “But kids have stepped up. Not only was this a win over a good football team, but this was a good win too.”

Friday’s win was also atypical of what fans are accustomed to seeing in a Roughriders’ win — an overpowering run game and a stifling defense.

St. Marys dominated the ground game with 287 yards on 67 carries compared to 88 yards for Shawnee, finished +2 in the turnover margin and played clean football for the first time this season as the defense flexed its arms with a number key third-down stops.

“We were able to execute the offense, we had a presence in the middle,” Frye said. “But how about that defense tonight? These kids are St. Marys kids, they were not happy with the start to the season by any means and a lot of kids would have buckled with all of the injuries we have had but they buckled down and said ‘we are going to get better.’

“I credit the seniors.”

On a night where a number of football games were delayed or postponed because of lightning, St. Marys and Shawnee started on time as Shawnee punted on its opening drive.

Hinkle made his presence felt right away with seven carries for 37 yards before the game was delayed because of lightning, but after the delay was lifted, Hinkle picked up where he left off with three rushes and the last one being his 1-yard score.

The closest the Indians got in the game came on their opening drive of the second quarter, but the extra point was wide right to allow St. Marys to keep the lead 7-6 with 7:21 left in the first half.

And then Hinkle did the rest.

Eight carries by Hinkle amounted for 35 of the Riders’ 75-yard scoring drive that ate up 5:41 and was culminated by Hinkle’s second score for a 14-6 lead with 1:40.

On the Indians’ ensuing possession, Shawnee converted on a fourth and 15 with 9 seconds left and were awarded 1 second to allow for a 30-yard field goal to end the half and close the gap to 14-9, but the Roughriders opened the second half by scoring on a 1-yard TD run by quarterback Kurt Bubp to push the Riders’ lead to 21-9. Setting up that scoring play, however, was a 20-yard pass from Bubp to Ty Howell along the sideline on second and 11 as the senior play caller punched the ball in three plays later.

Following possessions from each team, Shawnee threatened to close the deficit by getting inside the 10 yard line with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter, but a pitch to running back Peyton Wilson was sniffed out and dropped for a loss by Tanner Howell to force a turnover on downs.

And after another exchange of possessions, Hinkle and the Roughriders put the game away with a 13-play, 70-yard drive that took 6:01 off the clock and ended with Hinkle being hoisted by his offensive lineman after scoring on a 4-yard run.

That scoring drive was set up by an Carson Fischbach’s interception off Shawnee quarterback John Barker with 8:53 remaining in the game.

And just two weeks ago, the Roughriders limped back home with a 1-2 record after concluding a three-game road trip and endured a winless mark in the WBL as pressure mounted to christen a new stadium with a St. Marys win, but now the tables have turned, St. Marys is above .500 overall, are well alive in the postseason race and have a shot of claiming a league title with Wapakoneta falling to Kenton on Friday.

“To me, we finally played St. Marys football tonight,” “For the first time — what are the trademarks of our program? We played like those trademarks tonight.”