High school football playoffs: Touchdown in waning moments lifts Anderson past Piqua

Piqua running back Ca'Ron Coleman bursts through the line for a seven-yard touchdown late in the first half of Friday night's Division II, Region 8 quarterfinal at Alexander Stadium. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
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Piqua running back Ca'Ron Coleman bursts through the line for a seven-yard touchdown late in the first half of Friday night's Division II, Region 8 quarterfinal at Alexander Stadium. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

PIQUA – How much can happen in the final three minutes of a high school football game? More than you might think.

When it was over Friday night, pass-happy Anderson defeated Piqua 29-22 in a Division II, Region 8 quarterfinal, handing the Indians their first loss. That was after the game was surely headed for overtime, then Piqua would win, then probably overtime again.

“That was just a great high school football game,” Anderson coach Evan Dreyer said.

Anderson (7-2) led 20-7 at halftime and 22-14 until Piqua (7-1) drove 56 yards in eight plays to tie the score with 2:27 left. Ca’Ron Coleman scored from the two. Then Brady Ouhl threw a pop pass just over the linemen’s heads to Jerell Lewis for the two-point conversion.

Anderson quickly was in a fourth-and-4 at its 26 with 1:57 left. Dreyer didn’t punt. Instead, quarterback Jackson Kuhn threw one of his few incompletions and Piqua got the ball 26 yards from victory.

Piqua coach Bill Nees was not surprised that Dreyer went for the first down based on what he’d seen on game film.

“People will think I’m crazy,” Dreyer said. “The way we punted goes into it, but you have to look at the kids and say I want to win the game. You can throw the analytics out the door. I wanted to go for it.”

And he didn’t want to go to overtime against Piqua’s defensive front of ends Lewis and Landon Hare and tackles Lance Reaves-Hicks and Caleb Lyons.

Jasiah Medley then broke a 24-yard run to the 6, but an unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of the play backed the Indians up to the 21. After another 5-yard penalty, Ouhl was intercepted and Anderson had the ball at the 26 with 1:03 left and two timeouts. That was plenty of time for Kuhn.

“When it came time for us to make some plays, we made too many mistakes,” Nees said.

Kuhn quickly moved the Redskins to midfield. With 28 seconds left, he scrambled out of trouble – something he did many times to the frustration of the Piqua pass rushers – and lofted a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jerrick McClanahan for the winning score.

“That was just one of those senior moments that our quarterback got to have and I’m very happy for him,” Dreyer said.

Kuhn ran the Redskins' high-tempo offense efficiently against a Piqua defense that had allowed only 4.4 points and 188.6 yards a game. On almost every play, Kuhn would catch the shotgun snap and immediately throw it. He got the ball out of his hands quickly – like a catch-and-shoot 3-point specialist in basketball – and neutralized the Indians pass rush that had accounted for 27 sacks in seven games.

Kuhn completed 40 of 57 passes for 429 yards and two touchdowns. And on draw plays and scrambles he accounted for another 57 yards on 20 carries

“He made enough plays to win the game,” Dreyer said. “And to put up 29 points against that defense was tough truckin'. That defensive front is very, very good.”

Piqua adjusted in the second half to take away a lot of the quick, short passes to the edge. Kuhn completed 15 of his first 17 passes.

“We said, ‘Hey, it’s going to take us a while to get used to this.’” Nees said. “And the kid was unbelievably accurate.”

Coleman led Piqua with 130 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. The Indians, used to making big plays, finally got one on Ouhl’s 69-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Schrubb late in the third quarter to cut Anderson’s lead to 20-14.

Piqua’s defense, despite all the yards it allowed, made big stops. Anderson fumbled into the end zone in the first quarter and was stopped inside the one in the final minute of the third quarter. But the Redskins got a safety for a 22-14 lead on the next play when they tackled Ouhl in the end zone on a play disrupted by a high snap.

“It was incredible some of the stops we had,” Nees said. “And our defense played resilient.”

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