Leading the Indians on the game-winning drive with less than seven minutes to go and accounting for 206 of his team’s 229 total yards Friday, the senior quarterback and Piqua survived a botched field goal attempt on the last play of the game by host Trotwood-Madison to capture a 14-13 win in a pivotal Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division contest. Trotwood also messed up the snap and handle on an extra-point.
The Indians, the defending Division II state champions, improve to 5-1 overall, while Trotwood falls to 4-2. Piqua’s lone loss is a 14-7 setback at Pickerington Central in a Week 2 rematch of last year’s state final.
“A loss is a loss,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “It still hurts. Matter of fact we still talk about it sometimes. We bring it up every once in a while. Indian Nation doesn’t take kindly to losses period.”
Friday’s win should help ease any lingering pain.
And if not, Hemm may have some Band-Aids. He had all the answers against Trotwood.
Committing three first half turnovers and other costly mistakes on five first half drives, Piqua trailed 7-0 at halftime. The Rams scored via a 10-yard Michael Shaw run.
“We were playing good football in the first half,” Nees said. “We just needed to stick with what we were doing and make sure we didn’t get too conservative. Defensively we tried to keep pressure on them and offensively we just wanted to stop the turnovers.”
“We had drives in the first half but we’d have that one mistake and not be able to capitalize,” Hemm said. “Second half we just knew as an offense we had to cut down on the mistakes and put it in the end zone. Defense was playing great.”
Hemm returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the 50 yard line and 10 plays later Kendall Taylor scored from 5-yards out. The big play on the drive was a 28-yard pass from Hemm to David Rolf on third and five from the Trotwood 35.
Trotwood responded with a score of its own with 10:19 left when Domonick Britt hit Roy Roundtree for a 13-yard TD. The extra-point was no good.
An interception by Piqua’s Wes Reed with 6:22 left set up the winning drive. Hemm executed it.
Completing four-of-five passes for 38 yards on the drive, Hemm fashioned a first and goal at the Trotwood four yard line. Two plays later, Taylor scored his second TD from two yards out. The call was originally designed for Hemm.
“(Hemm) made a great play on the goal line down there,” Nees said. “We had a keep called and he looked up and saw they had three guys stacked outside so he just went with the blast. That was a damn good decision.”
Hemm recovered a Trotwood fumble with 52 seconds left, but then coughed it up on the next play setting up the Rams final charge. It was about the only thing he did wrong all night.
“I was so nervous (when Trotwood lined up for the field goal),” Hemm said. “That would have been all my fault.”
Hemm carried the ball 18 times for 86 yards and completed 9-of-16 passes for 117.
Britt, a Cincinnati recruit, finished 15-of-23 for 121 yards passing. He also rushed 13 times for 71 yards. Shaw (Penn State) added 93 yards on 20 carries.
Both teams turned it over four times.
“I’ll take Domonick Britt any day of the week. And I’ll also take Justin Hemm,” Trotwood coach Maurice Douglass said. “Those two guys are warriors. You want the ball in their hands and this time, Justin got the upper hand on us.”
“Hemm can give you a heart attack in five seconds,” Nees said. “He’s just an amazing kid.”