By Rob Kiser
TOLEDO — The Piqua football team played a great first half and it was enough to get past Toledo St. John’s Friday night 34-30 to open the season.
The Indians had opened a 27-7 halftime lead, amassing 354 yards of offense.
Then Darien Tipps-Clemons finished off the opening game win.
TSJ drove down the field on the opening drive of the game, but on third and four from the Piqua 23, the ball was snapped over the quarterback’s head and the Titans had to punt.
Darien Tipps-Clemons set the tone on the opening play of the drive from the Piqua seven, running 74 yards to the TSJ 19.
Five plays later, he would score from two yards out and Noah Lyman’s kick would make it 7-0.
On Piqua’s next possession, the Indians would go 79 yards on 14 plays, with Elijah Hudson scoring from three yards out.
Noah Lyman, who would approach 200 yards receiving in the game, would make a diving catch on a third and five from the Piqua 26 for 29 yards to keep the drive going.
After Hudson’s TD, the PAT was blocked to make it 13-0.
Later, in the second quarter, TSJ would fumble and Piqua would 66 yards in six plays to make it 20-0.
Andrew Lee had a 51-yard reception on the drive to set up Hudson’s 1-yard TD run. Lyman’s PAT was good.
After the Titans got on the board with 1:33 left in the first half to make it 20-7, Piqua came up with two big plays.
Starting on its own 20, it took Piqua just two plays to score.
Lyman lined up wide and no Titans went to that side of the field.
Piqua quarterback Rupert Delacruz alertly spotted him and Lyman took the the ball down to the Titans one, with Tipps-Clemons scoring on the next play. Lyman’s kick made it 27-7.
It looked TSJ would answere in the final minute of the half, but on second and goal from the 10, Derek Hite sacked the quarterback and the clock ran out.
Tipps-Clemons had 108 yards rushing on nine carries in the half, while Lyman caught three passes for 135 yards.
Delacruz completed four of five passes for 186 yards.
But, the second half was a different story as St. Johns scored 17 unanswered points to get within 27-24 with just over three minutes remaining.
But, Piqua was able to get a big completion to Lyman that put him over 200 yards for the night and the Indians held on for the win.
Tipps-Clemons put the exclamation point on the win, with a 71-yard run on third and 15 from the 29 in the last minute and Lyman added the kick.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.