By Rob Kiser
The Urbana football team never knew what hit them.
A two-hour delay before the Piqua home opener Friday night at Alexander Stadium/Park Field only served to make things worse for the young Hillclimber team as the Indians offensive and defensive lines controlled the game from the start in a 63-7 Piqua romp.
It took the Indians to 2-0 on a night when the late John Apple, a former Piqua player and coach was honored before the game, which started after a two hour and 25 minute lightning delay.
“The whole thing went really well,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said. “The delay gave us a chance to show them highlights from the 2006 (state championship) season. Those defensive lineman on that team could wreck some things.”
And the Indians drew inspiration from that.
“Watching those films, it was just amazing how fast those guys came off the ball,” defensive lineman Nate Monnin said. “I think it did kind of inspire us. I think this was the best we have played.”
And by the time the game finally started, Piqua’s big man in the middle (6-4, 333-pound junior Tristen Cox) could hardly be contained.
“Tristen (Cox) was getting pretty upset by the delay,” Piqua running back Darien Tipps-Clemons said. “We had to calm him down a little. But, it worked out.”
Cox said there was not stopping the Indians.
“After the delay, it was like a bunch of caged animals being released, we were so fired up,” Cox said.
And it didn’t take long for the Indians to strike.
On Urbana’s third play, Nick Johnson caught a short pass from quarterback Levi Boettcher. As he turned upfield, Derek Hite stripped the ball, with Dylan Cole recovering at the Hillclimbers 32.
“Tonight is the best game our defensive line has played in a long time,” Nees said.
One play later, Piqua had a lead it would never relinquish.
While Clemons is a hard-runner, it wasn’t necessary as he went 32 yards without getting a hand laid on his jersey.
“The offensive line just did an unbelievable job,” he said. “It was big to set the tone and when I saw the unbelievable hole they gave me, I knew I was going to score.”
Noah Lyman’s kick made it 7-0.
And while the Piqua defense was holding Urbana to minus yardage in the first half, the Indians offense just kept rolling.
The Indians went 86 yards on its next series.
Quarterback Rupert Delacruz had a 31-yard run on a third-and-eight from the Piqua 33 and on fourth-and-three at the Urbana 14, the senior found a wide open Monnin in the back of the end zone.
Urbana blocked the kick to leave the score at 13-0.
“I wasn’t nervous (waiting for the ball to get there,” Monnin said. “Rupert (Delacruz) made a great throw on the play.”
Then Monnin separated Boettcher from the ball three plays after kickoff, with defensive lineman Nathan Hampton recovering at the Urbana four. Two plays later, Elijah Hudson ran into the end zone from the three and Lyman’s kick made it 20-0.
Then came an amazing sequence from the Piqua defense and special teams, scoring nine points without the offense taking the field.
First, Tipps-Clemons crushed Boettcher in the end zone on a third-and-25 from the 1-yard line for a safety.
“Coach (Bill Nees) moved me over and I knew I was going to get there,” Tipps-Clemons said.
Nees said Boettcher had no chance.
“We had him boxed in,” Nees said with a smile. “We had the band on one side and Darien (Tipps-Clemons) coming from the other side.”
Then on the free kick, Andrew Lee returned it 61 yards for a score and Lyman’s kick made it 29-0.
“I just followed Alex (Nees) block and went down the sideline,” Lee said. “It felt great.”
Piqua’s kickoff coverage team also kept Urbana bottled up all night.
“Our special teams has become a strength,” Nees said. “And the great thing about that is they are all sophomores and juniors.”
Allen Schrubb would get in the end zone on Piqua’s next series, with Lyman adding the kick.
After a punt return for a touchdown was called back by holding, Piqua got the ball back at midfield with the half near an end.
Delacruz threw a perfect strike to Lyman for a 50-yard touchdown and the receiver’s kick made it 44-0 at the break.
“Rupert (Delacruz) had a great game,” Nees said. “He continues to grow and made great decisions all night.”
Hudson had an 86-yard kickoff return to start the second half and on first-team offense’s only play of the half, Tipps-Clemons went 11 yards for a score.
On the first-team defense’s only series of the second half, defensive back Alex Nees finished things off with sack.
“It felt great,” Alex Nees said. “I think we have really improved on defense. Coach (Troy) Ouhl is pushing us all the time and we have really made great strides.”
Sophomore Devon Brown added touchdown runs of six and 34 yards, while Urbana got on the board on a 11-yard pass from Boettcher to Alex Lohnes, with Cooper Johnson kicking the PAT.
Tipps-Clemons led a balanced rushing attack with 68 yards on six carries and now has 300 yards for the season.
Delacruz completed four of six passes for 68 yards and two TDs.
Boeetcher completed seven of 17 passes for 52 yards for Urbana.
“You don’t know (how kids are going to react to a delay),” Nees said. “But, I know these kids pretty well.”
Now comes a home game with unbeaten Lima Senior Friday.
“Big, big test is coming,” Nees said.
After one of the most dominating performances by the Indians in some time.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.