With second team All-Ohio quarterback Alex Pidcock under center and his state championship game record performance, Sylvania Southview claimed its first football title in school history in a thrilling win over defending champ Cincinnati Anderson.
MASSILLON – Sylvania Southview head coach Jim Mayzes’ cell phone was ringing off the hook at the press conference following the Division II state championship game.
And it probably won’t stop ringing anytime soon following a 29-25 win over defending state champion Cincinnati Anderson, Fri., Nov. 28 at Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium in front of 5,953 fans in a game that featured big plays on offense, timely defense and critical special teams play.
For Southview, it marked the first football state championship in school history.
“Wow! What a fantastic battle back and forth,” Mayzes said after the game.
Said Anderson head coach Jeff Giesting: “I just thought we had some breakdowns tonight that cost us the game. But my hat off to them – they had a good game plan and put their guys in position to make plays and they did.”
Southview’s second team All-Ohio quarterback Alex Pidcock set a Division II state title game record with 333 yards passing on 23-of-30 attempts with three touchdowns passes and an interception.
He also had 94 yards rushing on 23 carries and a touchdown on the ground.
“The offensive line gave Pidcock some time back there and when they do that (the receivers) run around and get open,” Mayzes said.
Wide receiver Shaun Joplin also set a Division II state title game record with 166 yards and was on the receiving end of one of those Pidcock touchdown tosses.
Southview (15-0) tallied 465 total yards in the game to Anderson’s 300 and the defense made some key plays at opportune times.
“They have been making big plays all year,” Mayzes said of his defense. “They are a bunch of tough-minded, hard-nosed kids on that defense. The defense played really well. To give up as many points as we did, we’re disappointed, but they hung in there and played tough until the last play.”
After both teams opened the game trading punts, Anderson (12-3) lit the scoreboard first on a 31-yard Kyle Slater touchdown run capping a 6-play, 81-yard drive.
On Southview’s next possession and on the first play of the second quarter, Pidcock called his own number and leapt over top of the line for a 1-yard score to get Southview on the board.
The Cougars called a timeout then attempted the 2-point conversion but the pass from Michael Hehl to Travis Mezinko on a broken play fell incomplete and Anderson clung to a 7-6 lead.
With just under ten minutes left in the half, Southview put together a 13-play drive that lasted over six minutes but came away with only three points after a costly illegal block penalty that put the Cougars first and goal from the Anderson 18.
Unable to get into the end zone, Tim Hausfeld banged through a 32-yard field goal to give Southview a 9-7 lead.
Anderson answered promptly with a 5-play scoring drive spanning 67 yards that featured two long Slater runs, including a 31-yard touchdown run.
Southview was flagged for encroachment on the point after attempt so Anderson elected to go for the 2-point conversion but Slater was stuffed at the goal line as Anderson took back the lead 13-9.
But the scoring in the first half wasn’t over.
Southview took over with 1:25 left on its own 24 and quickly moved into Anderson territory down to the 25-yard line. Pidcock was sacked for a 13-yard loss on second down and called a timeout.
Southview faced a third down and 23 from the Anderson 38 with 0:01 left in the half.
After Anderson’s final timeout, Pidcock took a shot at the end zone as time expired on the half. The ball was tipped by Anderson defensive back Kevin Cripe and Southview freshman receiver Allen Gant was there for the deflection and pulled it down for the touchdown in the back of the end zone.
The Hausfeld point after gave Southview a 16-13 lead at the break.
“(The touchdown) gave us a little bit of momentum going into the half,” Pidcock said. “We had confidence throughout the whole entire game that we were going to get it done and we did.”
Said Giesting: “You give up a score like we did at the half and that is hard to overcome when you have two evenly matched teams. That really hurt us. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way in this game. That’s the way it is.”
Southview started the second half with the ball but on the first play from scrimmage, Pidcock was picked off by Cripe and Anderson took over on the Cougars 33-yard line.
But the Redskins were forced to settle for a field goal off the turnover as John Howard hit a 33-yard shot to knot the score at 16-16.
Anderson stopped Southview on fourth down and short on the next drive and took over at midfield but after a 10-play drive Howard missed a 31-yard field goal attempt giving Southview the ball on its own 20 in the final seconds of the quarter.
“I was proud of the defense so many times tonight,” Mayzes said. “We are considerably smaller than they are upfront. We did a nice job. There was a lot of smash mouth going on out there and I think everybody played their hearts out.”
Said Giesting: “We had all the momentum and we wanted to get those points and we didn’t get them. That made it tough on us.”
Southview made the most of the opportunity scoring in six plays with Pidcock connecting with Joplin for a 38-yard touchdown putting the Cougars up 22-16 after the failed point after with just over nine minutes left in the game.
Anderson quarterback Daniel Rod was intercepted by Mo May on the next Anderson drive giving Southview the ball on its own 1-yard line. The Cougars were unable to move the ball and on fourth down Southview elected to take the safety as Pidcock stepped out of the back of the end on the punt play.
Clinging to a 22-18 lead with 4:44 left, Southview kicked and Anderson took over on the Cougars 45 after a nice Luis Perez return. Six plays later, Slater sprinted 20 yards to pay dirt putting Anderson up 25-22 with 2:33 left in the game.
Southview started at its own 20 after the touchback and moved the ball willingly as Pidcock spread the ball around to four different receivers including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Paul Murphey while escaping defenders to give Southview the 29-25 lead with 0:32 left in the game.
“I just dropped back, looked around, didn’t really see anything at first, started scrambling and saw Murphey across the middle wide open so I tossed it out there for him and he got in the end zone,” Pidcock said. “It was a great read by him to find the open gap.”
Anderson was able to take a final shot at the end zone as time expired but the Rod pass was deflected by Jimmy Hall to seal the win.
“The last drive, when we scored, I think every kid on the offense knew we were going to,” said Mayzes. “We’ve run the 2-minute drill lots of times and when we got the ball back with 2:33 left and two timeouts, we knew that was going to be plenty of time.”
Slater finished the game with 180 yards rushing on 26 attempts and three touchdowns.
“Kyle works hard and we have an offensive line that is very talented and they are physical,” Giesting said. “Kyle is a physical runner with some burst and our coaches do a great job with getting some schemes and getting him into space.”
Anderson won its first football state title last year in Giesting’s first season at the helm.
“He is in the show two years in a row. What do you say about that?” Mayzes said about Giesting. “The guy is incredible.”
Southview made one other appearance in the championship game in 1999 falling to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 19-18.