In Steve Nolan’s shoes, Upper Arlington High School football coach Mike Golden probably would have done the same thing.
When Marcus Foster’s 3-yard touchdown run in overtime pulled visiting Troy to within 21-20 in a Division I, Region 3 first-round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 5, Golden had little doubt Nolan, the Trojans’ coach, would go for a two-point conversion and the victory.
“I was almost certain they would,” said Golden, whose team improved to 9-2. “I didn’t think they’d want to put it in their kicker’s hands. We figured they’d want to try to win it right there.”
Tyler Pfister and a host of tacklers swarmed Isaiah Williams at the 1-yard line, however, and UA escaped to set up a regional semifinal meeting against OCC-Central Division foe Hilliard Davidson at 7 p.m. next Saturday at a site to be announced. The region’s top-seeded Wildcats defeated Olentangy Orange 22-0 on Saturday.
“I just wanted to lift up all my teammates,” said Pfister, a senior linebacker. “We had a good idea they wanted to win the game there and then. We played to the bitter end.”
Gus Ackley scored from 25 yards on the first play of overtime. Four plays later, Foster reached the end zone and set up the final stand by the Bears’ defense.
Ackley rushed for a team-high 118 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. UA gained 180 of its 255 yards on the ground.
“We use a lot of different kids and whoever gets hot, that’s who we’re going to go with,” Golden said. “Gus got hot tonight and he certainly did a good thing there at the end.”
UA quarterback David Smith was intercepted on his first series by Foster, a University of Cincinnati commit, but the defense held near midfield. The Bears punted on their second possession, then the Trojans (8-3) took almost seven minutes to drive 65 yards in seven plays, capped by Isaiah Williams’ 19-yard touchdown run. The point-after kick was missed.
The Bears responded in kind, using an 11-play, 73-yard drive that spanned almost five minutes to take the lead. Ackley scored from 8 yards and Bobby Hamilton’s kick made it 7-6.
Jared Drake’s 5-yard touchdown run put UA ahead 14-6 with 42 seconds left before halftime.
Williams’ 2-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion tied the game at 14 in the third quarter, then Troy recovered an onside kick. But successive negative-yardage plays set the Trojans back to UA’s 36, and on fourth-and-11 May was intercepted by Garrett Powers in the end zone.
“That was a huge stop for us as it turned out,” Golden said. “That would have given them a lot of momentum scoring in that situation.”
Williams finished with 104 yards rushing to lead Troy, which totaled 173 yards on the ground. May was 9-for-17 passing for 145 yards with an interception.
“Give Troy credit. They came to give us everything we could handle,” Golden said. “We made some dumb mistakes during the game but we hung in.”
TROY 6 0 8 0 6 -- 20
UPPER ARLINGTON 0 14 0 0 7 -- 21
T--Williams 19 run (kick failed)
UA--Ackley 8 run (Hamilton kick)
UA--Drake 4 run (Hamilton kick)
T--Williams 2 run (Dunaway pass from May)
UA--Ackley 25 run (Hamilton kick)
T--Foster 3 run (conversion failed)