Only five miles of Route 23 separate Waverly and Piketon. Friday just one-point was the difference between these Pike County
rivals. In a game that took just shy of four hours,
contained over 100 total points and over 1,000 total yards, Waverly completed an improbable comeback to claim a 54-53 instant classic.
PIKETON – Only five miles of Route 23 separate Waverly and Piketon, and Friday night just one-point was the difference between these Pike County rivals as Waverly completed, what seemed throughout the night to be, an impossible comeback. The game took just shy of four hours to play, contained over 100 total points, over 1,000 total yards, and when it was all added up in the end, it equaled an instant classic 54-53 win for Rusty Wright’s Waverly Tigers.
Individually, Waverly’s Derek Roback tallied 605 all-purpose yards. The junior quarterback finished 28-of-48 for 422 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for 98 yards and a TD and returned a punt 85 yards for a score.
“We talked all off-season and all preseason about finishing,” said Wright. “There are so many times tonight we could have quit, but these kids refused to do that. I am extremely proud of how we continued to battle. Give Piketon credit because they just kept coming at us as well, but in the end we were able to finish the job.”
Piketon held multiple two and three possession leads throughout the entire game, but each time Waverly did just enough to hang around and in the end did just enough to be one-point better.
One of those points came late in the second quarter when Piketon scored 21 unanswered points to take what looked like was going to be a 21-6 halftime advantage. However, Waverly moved the ball in its two-minute offense and Roback connected with Shane Price with 29 seconds remaining to cut the lead to one possession.
This trend continued throughout the second half and when Piketon’s Keiffer Reed broke loose for a 57-yard score with just less than four minutes to play in the game, Piketon led 53-38 and the marathon finally looked as if it would have a conclusion.
Roback led his team down the field on a quick six-play scoring drive and then on the pursuing drive Waverly’s defense recorded one of the few defensive stops on the night to force a punt.
With the clock ticking down less than a minute, Roback received the punt at his own 10 and raced 90 yards to the end zone. Waverly had struggled in the kicking game throughout the night, so Wright decided to roll the dice and go for the win. The two-point conversion – a Roback to Kevin Malone pass – gave the Tigers the lead erasing a 15-point Piketon lead in less than three minutes of football.
“Roback is a special player, but we had so many guys produce,” said Wright. “You look at Robertson, Malone, Price, and Rowland with the plays they made. Then you had a freshmen like Kretzer make big catch after big catch. It’s just a great team win.”
“It was a tough game and you have to give Waverly all the credit,” said Piketon head coach Tyler Gullion. “You can blame me for some poor decisions, but there is no way you can blame the effort of these kids. We played hard we were just unable to get the job done.
“We just have to keep working. This is obviously tough to take, but we have to find a way to move on and keep getting better.”
For Piketon, Reed finished with 222 yards on 17 carries while teammate Tyler Tackett added 112 as the Redstreaks rushed for over 400 yards in the opener.
Piketon will stay home next week to host Nelsonville-York while Waverly opens its home slate against Jackson.