started out looking like it would be determined by which team had the
ball last but, after a 14-14 first quarter, the defenses tightened and
the Southview defense proved to be the more formidable as the Cougars
defeated defending D-II state champion Piqua, 21-14.
Piqua got on the board first and, in doing so, made it look like Southview might be over-matched.
The Indians marched down the field with relative ease on their first possession and capped it off by scoring a touchdown on a 23-yard pass from senior quarterback Justin Hemm to fellow senior David Rolf.
The Indian lead, however, was short-lived. On the ensuing kick-off, Southview’s Barry Ellison, took the ball 97 yards to the friendly confines of the Indian end zone. The Ellison return quickly quieted the Indian celebration and ignited one on the Cougar’s side of the field.
Cougar team leader, Griff Whalen, could not say enough about the impact of Ellison’s touchdown romp.
“It was absolutely huge,” Whalen said. “He (Ellison) turned the entire game around just like he did last week. He’s a big play guy and he made a big play.”
After the Cougar defense stopped the Indians on their next possession, the Cougars took their first lead of the game. Whalen came up with a big play of his own by racing 34 yards to the right corner of the end zone.
“I have been telling you guys all year about Griff Whalen,” Cougar head coach Jim Mayzes said. “He does so many different things for our team. Tonight was just another example.”
The Indians scored again on a Cortland Martin 5 yard run that put the exclamation point on the Piqua drive. The Martin touchdown tied the game at 14-all but it would also mark the Indians last score of the night.
The Cougars took the lead for good midway through the second quarter on another Whalen run. This time Whalen only needed to go 1-yard as he followed the blocking of the right side of his offensive line to pay dirt.
The first half was highlighted by the offensive units of both teams but the second half was clearly all defense. In the third quarter the Indians enjoyed excellent field position but could not take advantage of it as the Indians learned how tough the Cougar defense really was.
“In the first half we didn't play very well defensively, and offensively I thought we played well and it just flip-flopped on us,” Piqua head coach Bill Nees said.
The Cougar offense, although failing to score in the second half, still made a contribution to the effort. On every second half possession the Cougar offense attempted to eat up as much valuable time as possible. For the most part they did so successfully allowing their defense time to rest.
The final big defensive play of the night came on an interception by Cougar senior Shaun Joplin. The Indians were attempting to drive the ball downfield but were running out of time. With just over two minutes remaining, Indian quarterback attempted a long pass to his favorite receiver David Rolf but Joplin saw it coming all the way.
“I knew the whole time that he was going to No. 7 (Rolf’s number). I watched Hemm the entire time and when he let go of the ball I stepped in,” said Joplin. “All I was thinking was to hold on to the ball.”
With time expiring the Indians were trying desperately to get another chance on offense but the Cougar offense would not relent. Southview put on a clinic on how to eat up the clock. Interestingly it was neither the Cougar’s first or second team quarterback that put the exclamation point on the win, but rather, little used junior Michael Hehl. Hehl directed the Cougar offense subsequent to the Joplin interception and it was his second effort on a third down play that gave the Cougars the first down that they needed to seal the victory.
“I was a little bit surprised when the coach called my number but I wasn’t nervous. I just knew that I had to hold on to the ball,” said an excited Hehl.
Piqua’s loss ends their season at 8-4.
Southview (11-1) advances to face Ashland (11-1) who upset Avon Lake. The site will be announced on Sunday by the OHSAA.