By Rob Kiser
Now, its on to Troy.
With the GWOC American North title on the line.
The Piqua football team made sure of that with a 27-20 win over Tippecanoe Friday night at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field.
It also avenged a playoff loss to Tippecanoe last year and silenced a lot of talk that went on this week on the Yappi message board.
“Coach talked to this at the beginning of the week that we could go the revenge route,” Piqua senior defensive tackle Tristen Cox said. “But, it would be better to just go out there, make sure we were in position to make plays and we did that.”
And it started on the opening drive, when Tippecanoe drove inside Piqua’s 5-yard line before having to settle for settling for a 20-yard field goal by Calden Smith. It was the only lead the Red Devils would have the whole game.
“Coach (Bill) Nees had us so ready to play tonight,” running back/linebacker Ben Schmiesing said. “He just did a great job all week in practice. It felt good to keep them out of the end zone the first half.”
Piqua went 69 yards on the opening drive, effectively mixing the run and the pass.
“We have been throwing the ball more, ever since the Greenville game,” quarterback Austin Davis said. “It feels great to be able to do that.”
Schmiesing would run it in from nine yards out and Robbie Comstock’s kick made it 7-3.
Tipp would fumbled later in the half, with Kaleb Patton recovering for the Indians after Dylan Cole and Nate Monnin stripped the ball, but the Indians couldn’t convert.
A 60-yard run by Nyles Anderson set up a 33-yard field goal by Smith to get Tipp within 7-6 with 6:35 remaining in the half.
But, Piqua was able to drive down inside the Tipp five with less than a minute remaining in the half and had third and two at the four-yard line.
Davis found a wide open Nate Monnin in the end zone to put Piqua up 14-6 at the break.
“Coach (Bill Nees) said to throw it to Nate (Monnin) in the middle — if he wasn’t open, just throw it deep (out of the end zone). But, he was wide open.”
Nees understood the importance of that score.
“It was big,” Nees said. “We did a great job picking up the blitz on the play and it was open across the middle.”
Getting the ball first to start the second half, the Indians put together a 69-yard drive that took over six minutes off the clock.
Schmiesing ran it in from four yards out and Comstock’s kick made it 21-6.
“That is always vital to come out and get that score in the third quarter,” Nees said. “The big thing was we took a lot of time off the clock.”
Tipp then went 75 yards to stay in the game.
Quarterback Aaron Hughes had a 26-yard run on the drive and Anderson ran it in from 15 yards out with Smith’s kick making it 21-13.
Piqua would then put together and 87-yard drive early in the fourth quarter.
Piqua covered that distance in eight plays, with Schmiesing and Allen Schrubb ripping off big chunks of yardage.
“The offensive line and Schrubb blocked their butts off,” Schmiesing said. “I could have driven a truck through some of those holes.”
Schmiesing finished the drive with a 17-yard run with bodies left all over the field.
“That’s what you have to do to win these kind of games,” Schmiesing said. “There were some amazing blocks down the field on that play.”
But, Tipp wouldn’t quit.
Trailing 27-13, an Aaron Hughes pass was that was tipped by Piqua went right into the hands of Josh Walland for a 30-yard TD pass and with 3:53 remaining, Tipp was within 27-20.
“They got the momentum,” Nees said. “We had a three-and-out. But, we were able to stop the momentum.”
Tipp never got the ball back, as Piqua ran the ball from its 20-yard line down to the Tipp 25 in running out the clock.
“We knew what we had to do,” Schmiesing said, “We just had to make first downs and secure the ball.”
Schmiesing finished with 169 yards on 22 carries, while Schrubb had 101 yards on 18 carries.
Davis completed 11 of 13 passes for 101 yards.
“I thought our offensive line did an outstanding job tonight,” Nees said.
Anderson had 93 yards on eight carries for Tipp, while Cole Barhorst had 73 on 19 carries and Hughes completed seven of 10 passes for 73 yards.
Now, Piqua will take a 7-2 record and 4-0 mark in the North into the biggest Piqua-Troy game in recent memory. The Trojans are 8-1 and 4-0.
“Tipp is an outstanding football team,” Nees said. “It is good to get a win over a really good football team.”
And now, it is on to Troy.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-334.