The Region 4 final between Elder-Colerain was everything fans anticipated it to be and then some with Elder coming out on top 27-20 in double-overtime.
We have more from the game.
CINCINNATI – Following the Elder-Colerain Region 4 football final, a section of Elder football fans emphatically chanted ‘Miller Time! Miller Time!’ but they were not calling for a beverage.
They were cheering for junior quarterback Mark Miller, who led the Panthers to a regional final win over Colerain Sat., Nov. 15 at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium in a double-overtime affair for the ages.
Miller was 17-of-26 passing for 186 yards with three touchdowns, including a 20-yard strike to Josh Jones in the second overtime to give Elder (12-1) the 27-20 win in front of 10,599 fans.
“I don’t know how many catches (Jones had in the game) but we knew if he got separation it was going to be a touchdown,” Miller said. “I was just praying to God he would catch it. Luckily, he held on to it and we came out with the win tonight.”
For Jones, it was only his second catch of the game.
“I feel pretty good that (Elder head coach Doug Ramsey) has confidence in me and my team and had me get the ball,” Jones said about his game-winning touchdown catch.
Miller also tossed two interceptions in the game but was the leader on offense spreading the ball around to six different receivers.
With Jones receiving most of the attention from the Colerain secondary, Miller found junior receiver Tim O’Conner seven times for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Jones) didn’t have too many opportunities tonight but then when he got the chance there in overtime he made a big play,” Ramsey said.
Colerain (11-2) held a 395-263 advantage in total offensive yards but the Elder defense was stout keeping the Cardinals out of the end zone despite long sustained drives.
“My fear was that Colerain would be able to keep our offense off the field,” said Ramsey. “Our defense did a good job. We gave up a lot of yards but not a lot of points. We held them to field goals and when you can do that then you have a chance to win the game. I was really pleased with our defense.”
The Elder defense was the difference in both overtimes. Colerain started the extra period with the ball but back up running back Dom Carter fumbled the ball on first down and goal from the 8-yard line and Elder linebacker Erich Vogelsang recovered it.
Elder kicker Anthony Miliano came on for a 29-yard field goal attempt on forth down to try and win the game but Colerain’s Cole Pasquale blocked the attempt to send the game to double-overtime.
Elder got the ball first and Miller connected with Jones on the first play from scrimmage to give the Panthers the lead 27-20.
On second down of Colerain’s possession, Carter’s number was called again but fumbled again and Elder linebacker David Peters pounced on it to seal the win.
“That was a crazy game,” Ramsey said. “With all the twists and turns down the stretch, the two overtimes and guys making big plays on both sides of the ball – that was an unbelievable game.”
Colerain’s triple-option offense was led by quarterback Greg Tabar with 134 yards rushing on 28 carries and a touchdown.
Trayion Durham had 95 yards on 14 carries but went down in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury making way for Carter, who had 64 yards on eight carries.
Tyler Williams added 48 yards on 13 carries.
But Colerain put the ball on the ground four times and Elder recovered each fumble.
“My hat off to the Elder kids,” Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said. “They made the plays when they had too and we just made one too many mistakes.
“It could have gone either way but that is how these types of games go.”
Added Ramsey: “We got the extra possessions and it made a difference in overtime.”
Both teams started the game rather unsettled. Colerain turned the ball over on the first possession of the game in the middle of a commanding drive. The Tabar pitch to Williams sailed wide and Elder linebacker Corey Mason recovered it giving the Panthers the ball on their own 27.
But two plays later, Miller threw a pick to Colerain defensive back Nicholas Priessman giving the Colerain the ball on Elder’s 42.
The Cardinals shook the early mistake on offense and put together a 6-play scoring drive capped by a 5-yard Tabar run to put Colerain up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Elder seemingly put its early turnover behind as well answering on the next possession with a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive as Miller connected with O’Conner for a 23-yard touchdown strike tying the game.
Colerain’s turnover woes weren’t over yet in the first quarter, though, as Tabar couldn’t connect on another pitch – this time to Carter. Elder defensive lineman Nick Daffin recovered the ball and on Elder’s first play from scrimmage Miller found O’Conner again for a 12-yard touchdown pass putting the Panthers up 14-7 late in the first frame.
Colerain threatened late in the first half getting down to the Elder 8-yard line after starting on its own 35 but on third down and nine, the Tabar pass to Ryan Foster sailed out of bounds out of the back corner of the end zone. Foster’s feet got tangled with the Elder defender and the Colerain side lobbied for a pass interference call. Colerain was subsequently flagged for an unsportsmanship call after heatedly disagreeing with the officials
Facing a fourth down and 23, Jordan Ross knocked through a 41-yard field goal to cut the Elder lead to 14-10 heading into the break.
The third quarter was dominated by defense as both teams strapped in and held each other out of the end zone. But Ross cut the Elder lead to 14-13 on a mammoth 45-yard field goal after being backed up five yards for a delay of game penalty.
Elder answered with a field goal of its own with Miliano connecting from 30 yards to stretch the lead to 17-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Colerain took the lead for the first time since the first quarter about midway through the final frame on a 1-yard Williams run putting a bow on an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
But with just over two minutes left in regulation, Miliano hit a 25-yard chip shot to tie the game at 20-20 setting the stage for the overtime thriller.
“We were in some situations tonight where it didn’t look to good but our guys are competitors and they find ways to win games,” said Ramsey. “They found a way to win a tough game here tonight.”
Elder and Colerain tangled in the playoffs five straight years between 2000 and 2004 with the Panthers winning three of the five match ups. Three of those postseason match ups (2000, 2002, and 2003) were in the regional finals.
Each of the last three times the two teams have met in the playoffs, the winner has gone on to win the state championship, most recently, Colerain’s 2004 title. Elder won back-to-back state championship in 2002 and 2003.
“We have a great history of games,” Ramsey said. “It is always great competition but that was probably by far the best of all the games we’ve had, though. That was just an incredible game.”
Elder will take on Pickerington Central in the state semifinals next week most likely at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium.