On a rainy, chilly night, sometimes the simplest tasks can become an adventure.
The Hilliard Darby and Dublin Scioto high school football teams learned that lesson Oct. 26 during a turnover-laden game with playoff spots on the line.
Host Darby made fewer mistakes and came away with a 13-11 victory in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest to likely secure a Division I playoff spot. And for the second straight season, the Panthers knocked the Irish out of the postseason.
It came down to this: With six seconds remaining, Scioto had driven to the Darby 24-yard line and was setting to give kicker Griffin Crosa a 41-yard try. But as quarterback Kyron Rogers attempted to spike the ball to stop the clock, the wet ball slipped through his hands and rolled away.
“What an unbelievable way to end the game for both teams,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “We try not to harp on the conditions, but when the ball is wet like this, the most basic things in football — like throwing and holding on to the ball — can’t be taken for granted. Ball security ended up playing a big factor, and not just on the final play, either.”
Crosa, who has committed to kick at North Dakota State, banged a potential go-ahead, 22-yard field-goal try off the left goal post with 4:28 remaining. He had made a 46-yarder earlier.
Scioto held and took over at its 30-yard line with 2:09 to go. Facing third-and-8, Rogers completed a short pass to Kenyon Pannell, who took a hit in the head by Nick Wile. Pannell was taken off the field by emergency personnel.
On fourth-and-7, Rogers connected with Chad Ray for 24 yards. Rogers later scrambled for 24 yards to set up the potential winning field goal.
“It’s not all on Kyron,” Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. “It’s cold and wet and both teams had issues all night. Unfortunately, we made more mistakes than they did, especially in the red zone. Our kids battled hard, but the simplest things came hard tonight.”
Thanks to its run-oriented triple option, Darby (8-2, 5-1) had the edge because of the conditions, and quarterback Jack Stultz and fullback Connor Jones slammed away at the Irish (7-3, 4-2) all game. By contrast, Scioto is primarily a passing team and was victimized not only by four turnovers, but numerous dropped passes.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight and, maybe, the team with the least turnovers and mistakes would come out on top,” Jones said. “It’s just unbelievable the way this turned out.”
Wile had two fumble recoveries and numerous tackles for the Panthers.
“Every week, coach Santagata harps on ball security and limiting mistakes, and tonight with the weather we took that to heart,” he said.
Evan Grose had a 4-yard TD run and Jacob Mowell field goals of 41 and 35 yards for Darby in the back-and-forth contest.
Pete Hrelec scored on a 14-yard run for Scioto, which has dropped seven straight meetings with Darby.
“This was about the kind of game we thought it might be,” Santagata said. “I really felt like it was going to come down to the final series. A lot of our games have this year.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final DUBLIN SCIOTO 0 11 0 0 11 HILLIARD DARBY
3 7 0 7 13