COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Columbiana Clippers scored with just 1:01 remaining in the game to escape an upset bid by the Southern Indians, winning 22-18. The victory sets up a league championship game with East Palestine next week.
“All week long, all week long, we preached don’t let their record fool you,” Spaite said of the Indians team. “It doesn’t help that we have a big disparity in wins and losses between Columbiana and Southern Local. It’s pretty big.”
Late in the game, Wright made a gutsy call having punter Will Grodhaus throw a pass on a fake punt attempt, setting up the Indians at the Clippers 31-yard line. The play set the Indians up looking to grind out the clock leading 18-15 with 3:53 left in the game.
“I never do,” Indians coach Rich Wright said of holding back in big situations. “Sometimes I’m not very smart.”
“Credit to them, that wasn’t something that we quite hadn’t seen,” Spaite said of the fake punt. “We covered all the other ones, but not that one.”
But just three plays later the Indians would cough the ball up on a hand-off in the backfield. The Clippers Nathan Carter would pick it up and return it to the Indians 47-yard line with just 2:11 remaining.
“That was huge,” Spaite remarked about the fumble recovery. “Give our kids credit, we didn’t play especially well, but they didn’t quit. It wasn’t lack of effort, we just didn’t execute and they did.”
The Clippers would score 6-plays later when quarterback Jakob Cross connected with receiver Chase Franklin at the 5-yard line. Franklin would side-step a defender and dive into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with only 1:01 remaining.
“We ran two slants on the left side and a bubble,” Franklin said of the play. “I didn’t have a great game all around, and I was looking to make up for it.”
“As soon as I knew what the play was and I saw their coverage, I knew I was going to get the ball and get a chance to make a play,” Franklin added. “Soon as I caught the ball I had to make a good move to get to the end zone.”
The Indians controlled the game much of the first half, scoring on the first play of the second quarter on a 1-yard plunge by Will Grodhaus giving them a 6-0 lead. However, they would have a snap sail over the punter’s head just before halftime, giving the Clippers a chance to score before intermission. The Clippers took advantage of the error by scoring on a 13-yard pass from Cross to Jarrett Nemick with 1:53 left in the half and 7-6 lead.
The Indians seized the momentum to start the second half when Cam Grodhaus hot Cross as he was about to throw a pass, causing the ball to pop into the arms of the Indians Latrell Crute. Crute would race 52-yards for a touchdown and a 12-7 Indians lead at the 9:29 mark of the third quarter.
After the Clippers regained the lead at 15-12 with 10:44 left in the game on a 20-yard pass from Cross to Franklin, the Indians should their spirit in answering right back. The Indians scored with 8:24 remaining on a second touchdown run by Grodhaus. This time it was a 9-yard scamper around left end set up the final moments of the game with the Indians leading 18-15.
Next week the Clippers play at East Palestine for the league championship of the EOAC. Both teams come into the contest with identical 7-2 overall and 6-0 league records.
“If you can’t ready for this, your filing lights out. You better check your pulse,” Spaite remarked about getting motivated for next week. “If you can’t ready for this one, then you have the wrong sport.”
“It’s a credit to my coaching staff,” Spaite said of the Clippers position in the league following a 1-2 start. “Coach Wolfe does an outstanding job and our defensive people. We have come so far since those first three weeks.”
Southern drops to 4-5 overall, 2-4 in the EOAC and will host the Leetonia Bears in their last game of the season.
SO – Will Grodhaus 1 run (Run Failed)
CO – Jarrett Nemick 14 pass from Jakob Cross (Jared Bryarly Kick)
SO – Latrell Crute 52 fumble return (Run Failed)
CO – Chase Franklin 20 pass from Cross (Cross Run)
SO – Will Grodhaus 9 run (Pass Failed)
CO – Franklin 11 pass from Cross (Bryarly Kick)
Read more: Week nine high school football stories
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